Reality check for a
mobile app in clinical research

The customer and the challenge

The Clinical Trials Center (CTC) of the University Hospital Zurich (USZ) is one of the leading trial centres in Switzerland. On behalf of the pharmaceutical industry and doctors engaged in research, it carries out well over 100 clinical studies every year, which are marked by a high level of diversity; they range from observational to intervention studies. The main goal of any study is to collect data.

However, the processes involved in conducting a clinical trial are complex, and the data is usually collected manually. In what way then can individual steps be digitised, thus reducing the risk of manual errors? The hypothesis was that a generic mobile app for collecting data from test subjects could be used as it were for all research areas and clinics.

Approach

The project started with an intensive induction in the topic of clinical research, in particular, the regulators for medical devices and the GCP (good clinical practice) industry standard. After this, semi-standardised interviews and observations were carried out with around 30 representatives of the stakeholders, in order to understand the data collection processes for the various types of study.

Analysis

The interview partners were selected according to the theoretical sampling principle, with the aim of capturing the situation from as many facets as possible. The hypothesis was able to be partially refuted using spider web analyses. The visualisations gave a clear picture of the research areas and clinics where a mobile data capturing app would be realistic in an everyday context and where the data acquisition could be made more reliable and easier.

In addition, further pain points were identified in the available interview material by means of axial coding, which made it possible to uncover additional potential for optimisation with regard to general digitisation.

Added value for the Clinical Trial Center

  • Bad investment in “monster app” avoided
  • Digitisation potential uncovered
  • Valuable data set for further digital projects

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