Keeping up to date on the latest academic journal articles and publications can be challenging for researchers focused on bringing their own innovations and projects to life. With many different journals publishing articles daily, research article aggregators like PubMed have become the go-to solution. Recognizing the limited bandwidth and increasing mobility of researchers, Case, a new app available today on iOS and Android, is seeking to take the next step by creating a mobile solution for research article searching and sharing. The Case mobile app is designed to both consolidate the effort of tracking the latest journal articles from multiple publishers while streamlining the search process through content curation tied to research focus areas or journal preferences.
Medgadget had a chance to use Case as well as speak with Eric Kowalchyk, Co-Founder and Head of Product. Read on for both a short review and interview below.
The Case mobile app presents researchers seeking to stay up to date while on the go with three main functionalities: latest research, article search, and a saved search list. The latest research list is curated based on the topics the users select to follow from a list of 8,000+ options. For example, areas of study or research focus can be added to the topic list and used to filter articles that the user is specifically interested in reading. Article search is a straightforward feature where the user can search for articles by author, title, or other keywords. The saved search functionality consolidates all articles the user “Liked” for future reference in a single list.
Going into the review of the Case app, a known limitation of article search engines is access to the articles themselves. Many journals require paid subscriptions or prepaid access from a research institution. Eric gives more details in his full response below, but in short, if a user currently cannot view an article without a subscription, they are still unable to within the Case app.
In this editor’s experience, the latest research tab, representing the home tab in the Case app, worked fine but felt limited given the narrow scope of selectable topics. For example, disease states like “congestive heart failure” and popular topics like “digital health” were not selectable options within the available topic list. When asked about this, the Case team responded that, “At the moment, we’re focused on disease states, biomarkers, etc., but are thinking about expanding to broader topics such as digital health and artificial intelligence later this year. We’re seeing a lot of interest in AI in radiology and other specialties, so this would add value for our users.” They also informed Medgadget that the current list of 8,000 topics will soon be expanded to about 100,000 subtopics.
Despite the currently limited topic list, the article search and saved search features both worked exactly as expected. Articles from the past week and those written over ten years old were easily found, read, and liked. During the review, three additional capabilities complemented the Case app’s main functionalities. First, in the article search tab, a display of trending articles based on other users’ searches was a nice addition to see which articles are popular within the community of researchers using the platform. Second, recognizing the need to facilitate collaboration, the Case app allows users to share articles with other researchers, even those not using the app. Third, an important time saver is the ability to search for keywords or sections within a given article once it is selected and displayed. Overall, using the Case app was a good experience and feels like a step in the right direction for facilitating mobile-friendly research article search and review.
Michael Batista, Medgadget: Where did the idea for the Case app come from?
Eric Kowalchyk: In 2015, Avikk Ghose, Case co-founder and CEO, met a urologic cancer surgeon who had treated his father at UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. To protect her privacy, let’s call her Dr. Grey. Dr. Grey’s schedule was overbooked with surgery, patient consultations and tumor boards. In between meetings, she checked her iPhone to respond to emails, texts, and calls. If she had a few minutes, she also reviewed the latest research in urologic oncology. As a teaching physician, she cared deeply about leading-edge research and subscribed to over ten journals including Cancer and the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
With so many journals, it was challenging to find and share essential articles. Dr. Grey explained, “Now I receive emails from the Journal of Clinical Oncology, JAMA and others and have to visit many different sites for important research. I’d love to have this information condensed into one mobile app to save time.”
This encounter helped Avikk see the connection between Dr. Grey’s research knowledge problem an opportunity to enable her to help more patients faster.
Medgadget: I see you’re the founder of Kernel. Is Case a product offering of Kernel or a different project/business?
Kowalchyk: Yes, we have another product called Kernel (gokernel.com). It’s designed to help Medical Affairs teams at biotech companies analyze insights from physicians. Case is a complementary and separate product from Kernel. It was our experience with Kernel, working closely with researchers, that we felt we could execute well on the opportunities to accelerate scientific discovery through research services like Case.
Medgadget: What other options do individuals have to search for and read medical research journals on their mobile device?
Kowalchyk: In our experience, the two most popular for searching journal articles are PubMed and Google Scholar. Nearly every researcher we talk to uses PubMed. Because it’s so well-used and well-loved, we spend a lot of time thinking how we can offer more content and functionality than PubMed does today.
Medgadget: Many online journals and repositories require an individual to have an account or pay for access. Do Case users receive access beyond what a typical researcher can find online?
Kowalchyk: Some articles are not open-access and may require a paid subscription to the publisher to view the full article. We found most of our researchers’ institutions already pay for full access for their employees. Our users simply sign into the publisher with their username and password, and Case saves their credentials for future access.
Other information such as viewing abstracts and videos, along with product functionality like searching for authors, is free. Case manages the organization, enrichment, and advanced functionality beyond what can be found online from open repositories.
We believe the trend for publishing new research is leaning toward open access among the scientific community. At some point, we hope all research is made publicly available to the researchers that need it to improve the lives of patients.
Medgadget: Does Case facilitate engagement or interactions between users?
Kowalchyk: Currently you can share articles found on Case with colleagues using existing apps on your phone such as SMS, Whatsapp, Slack, Facebook, or Twitter. When viewing an article abstract, users simply need to tap the share icon, to the left of the heart icon at the top of your screen, to share the article.
Medgadget: What operating systems and devices is the Case app currently compatible with?
Kowalchyk: Case has native mobile and tablet apps for iOS, and Android. Researchers can also access their Case account on the web at https://my.casejournals.com.
Medgadget: What has been the feedback from Case app users?
Kowalchyk: It’s been absolutely exciting to hear researchers’ feedback on Case. Through their feedback, we redesigned the app to give them the latest research up front on the home page in order to quickly see what’s new in their areas of focus and we now have a separate section for our machine learning-driven recommendations. The response to videos has been great. Considering our audience is always pressed for time, a video summary of new research enables them to get a detailed grasp of the article’s main points in much less time than having to read the full article. We now have researchers listening to Case videos on their commute to work!
Medgadget: What’s next for the Case app? Are there any new features, functionalities, or upgrades we can look forward to next?
Kowalchyk: In the near future, we’ll add more features that PubMed doesn’t have, like the ability to search by Altmetric score and number of citations. This year we’ll also add more content sources, including video, and make it easy for researchers to post updates and papers directly to their followers on Case. Anyone can follow our news and updates here: https://casejournals.com/news-and-updates.