When biopharma companies and service providers began offering smartphone apps, it was Apple ($AAPL) first, Android second, or not at all. But with Google's ($GOOG) mobile operating system becoming a global behemoth, the roles have reversed, with the likes of eClinical provider PHT prioritizing development on Android over the iOS system that underpins Apple's iPhone.
PHT unveiled its electronic patient reported outcome (ePRO) app for Apple and Android devices last summer, but Google's platform has become its primary focus. Talking to Clinical Informatics News, Sheila Rocchio, VP of marketing at PHT, said the sheer number of Android devices--in May, Kantar Worldpanel reported that its market share was 62% in the U.S. and 83% in China--makes it attractive as trials move toward "bring your own device." There is little point in biopharma companies only offering this option to the slice of participants who have Apple devices.
Rocchio sees further benefits to Android, too, some of which prompted PHT to pick Google's Nexus handset--which is manufactured by LG--as the device for which it is specifically provisioning its ePRO app. When compared to the iPhone, Rocchio praised the Nexus' screen size, response times, user experience and flexibility in terms of cables and other accessories. Cost is another consideration. "[We] will support the iOS platform eventually, but we won't provision an iOS device. It's a lot more expensive," Rocchio said.
The arrival of the ePRO app on consumer smartphones marks another step in the slow shift toward cutting the use of dedicated devices in clinical trials. Advocates of the "bring your own device" model argue that making people use unfamiliar, dedicated ePRO devices increases the risk that participants will make mistakes or fail to make timely updates to their diaries. Rocchio has seen site staff and patients benefit from the familiarity of the Nexus device when using the app's drug-scanning feature. "Customers are used to using it. They scan barcodes at Target to get price matches," she said.
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