Why Native Apps Trump Web Apps for Security & Performance in Clinical Research

Native versus web applications became a hot conversation topic again after recent developments involving Apple in the European Union. Initially, Apple’s decision to severely restrict web apps in the EU as a response to their Digital Markets Act sent shockwaves through the tech community, raising concerns about the future accessibility and diversity of applications on iOS devices. However, Apple soon walked this decision back a bit after facing challenges from the European Commission.

On One Hand…

Web apps certainly open up the field for developers to provide software (games, tools, shopping, etc.) with fewer restrictions from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, or any other platform owner. In most cases, and certainly in the case of consumer-focused apps, having more freedom of choice is great. Additionally, web apps are typically much cheaper to build and deploy than native apps – an obvious selling point for developers.

On the Other Hand…

Apple wants to curtail the use of web apps on their devices so they can have better oversight. They want to maintain relatively high quality along with strong security, things much easier to monitor and achieve through native apps. 

If you are a professional in the highly regulated field of clinical research, the terms quality and security should hit close to home. So, in the midst of this native vs. web debate, what should clinical researchers be thinking about when it comes to how best to engage with their clinical trial data from a mobile standpoint?

The Power Beyond the Web

Web applications are inherently limited by the capabilities and constraints of web browsers. In contrast, native applications are limited only by the operating system they run on, which are typically much more powerful. This difference is critical in clinical trials where the use of smart device features such as Bluetooth, camera, and microphone can easily be put to work collecting patient data – capabilities difficult to achieve with browser-powered web apps.

Superior Performance and User Experience

When it comes to performance, there is simply no comparison between native and web applications. Native apps provide a smoother and faster experience because they are designed specifically for the hardware they run on, allowing for more efficient use of the device’s resources. Native apps offer more flexibility, as they are designed with the device’s capabilities in mind, ensuring a more intuitive and engaging interaction for the user. 

For instance, TrialKit’s mobile app will operate in whichever default language the device is set to, making it ideal for global-scale studies in which multiple languages are being spoken. With just a few simple clicks, a patient can fill out an ePRO, or take just a few moments to provide an eConsent. If they have questions, they can use the app to immediately chat or video conference with a study team member. With older patient populations, the more hoops we ask them to jump through (e.g., click this link, open this window, etc.), the less likely they are to comply correctly, or at all.

Enhanced Security

As we all know, data security and privacy are extremely important and tightly governed in the life sciences industry. Native applications have a significant advantage here because they can leverage web services that are far more secure than browsers. Native apps can build additional layers of security that are not possible with web applications, providing further protection for sensitive clinical trial data.

Biometric authentication, made available through native apps, affords users greater security compared to traditional usernames and passwords. Apple states that the chance of a random person unlocking an iPhone with Face ID is 1 in 1,000,000. Beyond the security benefits, Face ID and Touch ID can be used to ease the burden of remembering another set of login credentials. This means on TrialKit’s mobile app, both researchers and study participants can log in with their biometrics instead of inputting an email and password every time. 

Integration and Flexibility

For clinical trials seeking seamless integration with existing systems, native apps provide much more flexibility over browsers. As an example, native apps like TrialKit can easily interface with wearables and other devices, a task that is notoriously challenging with web applications. This capability not only enhances the efficiency of data collection but also opens up new possibilities for study designs. 

Efficiency for Study Builders and Managers

Native applications offer tools that make study builds more efficient, a feature that web-based competitors cannot match. This efficiency is crucial for study managers who need to quickly adjust or make changes to studies. Native apps like TrialKit facilitate rapid modifications directly from a mobile device, eliminating the need to be tethered to a computer, so that trial managers can identify and react to new trends and information fast.

The BYOD Approach

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) methodology perfectly exemplifies the convenience of native apps in clinical research. Downloading an app optimized for their device, participants and researchers can bring clinical research into their daily lives, making the process as simple as pulling a device out of their pocket. 

The download process is simple and straightforward. There is no need to explain a multi-step method of how to download an app from a website and make it accessible from a home screen. Again, imagine having to ask 100 patients, aged 65+ to navigate their phones like this. 

The Verdict: Web Apps are Great, But Not for Clinical Research

The advantages of using native applications over web applications for clinical trial data platforms are clear and multifaceted. From superior performance and user experience to enhanced security and integration capabilities, native apps are simply a better option for modern clinical research. As the industry continues to evolve, the shift toward native applications seems not only beneficial but necessary to meet the increasing demands of clinical trials, where the number of data sources continues to multiply and the use of mobile devices becomes more pervasive (there are estimated to be around 6.84 billion smartphones globally). By embracing native apps, we can enhance efficiency, improve patient engagement, and ultimately, conduct better clinical trials.

For more information about TrialKit, the industry’s only unified eClinical platform for web and mobile, visit www.crucialdatasolutions.com