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Tigerspike, NIHR CRN partner to streamline medical research processes via mobile technology

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tigerspike, a global digital products company, has partnered with the National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN), launching a pilot program assessing how the power of mobile can aid clinical research processes. 

Scientific research is expensive, time consuming and recruiting a large enough cohort is often difficult. The NIHR CRN partnered with Tigerspike to design and build an application for its employees that lets medical researchers gather robust and meaningful data, by making it easier to enroll participants and consequently conduct studies. The application uses the new ResearchKit software framework designed by Apple to make it easy for researchers to gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone apps. ResearchKit enables participants to easily complete tasks or submit surveys right from the NIHR CRN app and delivers a simple way to present participants with an interactive informed consent process. 

The NIHR CRN set up a challenge for their Coordinating Centre staff to walk 10,000 steps over a two-week period, with the application recording the number of steps participants made each day over the course of the study. The captured data was encrypted and sent securely to the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (a body of the University of Leeds) where it was then reviewed. 

The results proved that e-consent is a strong option for people to sign-up to research and reduces the time taken to complete compared to traditional paper-based processes. Recruitment to the challenge was also more clear-cut in comparison to traditional research projects. Participants could simply download the application from a link and there was no requirement for specialist equipment or for participants to track information on paper—everything was collected on the mobile device. 

“Medics and researchers around the world are already using digital technologies to revolutionise the way we think about health,” said Alex Burke, Group CEO, Tigerspike. “Many legacy healthcare systems are increasingly proving to be inefficient as they are simply too large and fragmented to drive rapid digital transformation. Technology is enabling data collection to be more efficient than ever before, for both researchers and participants alike. Through the use of mobile applications, medical researchers will have the power to recruit more participants much quicker, providing more precise data and more accurate insights than ever before. Ultimately, this will provide unprecedented opportunities for patients to gain earlier access to better and new treatments, and we’re looking forward to being a part of this revolution as we look to continue this initiative with the NIHR CRN.” 

“Tigerspike immediately tied into our culture and enthusiasm to get things done,” said Michael Mullane, NIHR CRN Learning Management Systems Manager. “They handled the process of taking our idea to fruition in a way that was more about partnership than a client developer relationship. Tough and timely project management, good use of workflow tools and good communications meant that confidence was high throughout the project. Tigerspike delivered on time, within budget and to specification. Working with them has shone a light on our internal practices and helped us improve.” 

ResearchKit is a software framework designed specifically by Apple for medical research that helps doctors and scientists gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone. World-class research institutions have already developed apps with ResearchKit for studies on asthma, autism, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, epilepsy, melanoma and Parkinson’s disease. ResearchKit makes it easier to recruit participants for large-scale studies, accessing a broad cross-section of the population. Study participants can complete tasks or submit surveys right from the app, and are presented with an interactive informed consent process, which helps explain the study’s purpose, how data will be used and the app’s privacy policy. 

Tigerspike is a global digital products company specializing in strategy, experience design, development and systems integration. We deliver business value, creating products that are differentiated by the experience, the technology and the data derived from both. Founded in 2003, Tigerspike now employs more than 300 people and has presence in New York, London, Singapore, San Francisco, Dubai, Melbourne, Wroclaw and Tokyo.

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