As scrutiny over the quality, accuracy and reliability of medical apps increases, it is becoming more and more important to include detailed references in a mobile application.  While offering users a link from a reference to the PubMed citation is helpful, it generally only provides access to the paper’s abstract, unless the paper happens to be open access.  Perusing an abstract can help convey the main findings and conclusions of a research article, but the full text often needs to be reviewed to truly clarify the merits or limitations of a paper’s methodology and to determine if the author’s conclusions are justified.

For most medical app developers, the technological challenges and resources required are too great to offer functionality that gives users access to full text articles via their institutional subscriptions.  Since Read by QxMD (iOS download) already has solved the problem of getting full text research articles in 1 tap (using a user’s institutional subscription or via open access), QxMD has opened up their app to 3rd party integration.

For any medical app developer who wants to offer links from an iOS app to full text articles indexed in PubMed, simply use the following code:

// to open a paper in the 'Read by QxMD' app, simply use the following URL format:

// readbyqxmd://openpmid/[myCompanyName]/pmid (where [myCompanyName] is replaced by your company's name
// e.g.:

- (void)openPMID:(NSNumber *)pmid {
    NSString *customUrlString = [NSString stringWithFormat:@"readbyqxmd://openpmid/myCompanyName/%@", pmid];
    NSURL *qxCustomURL = [NSURL URLWithString:customUrlString];
    BOOL isAppInstalled = [[UIApplication sharedApplication] canOpenURL:qxCustomURL];
if(isAppInstalled) {
        [[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:qxCustomURL];
    else {
        //display popup
        [[[UIAlertView alloc] initWithTitle:@"Read this Article?"
                                    message:@"Download \"Read by QxMD\" from the App Store to read this paper (Free download)"
                          otherButtonTitles:@"Download", nil] show];

- (void)alertView:(UIAlertView *)alertView willDismissWithButtonIndex:(NSInteger)buttonIndex {

    if(buttonIndex == 1) {   
        [[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:[NSURL URLWithString:@""]];

Mobile web apps can use the following url scheme:{PMID}

remembering to replace {PMID} with the PubMed ID of the article of interest.

Instead of linking to a website, you are linking to a page within an app that provides a simple method to find the full text of any given article indexed in PubMed.

How do I find the PubMed ID for a given article?

On the web, a PubMed ID can easily be found by searching for the article on and then finding the PMID.

How to find a PMID

Or using Read by QxMD for iPad or iPhone, search for the article of interest and make note of the PMID.

Find a PMID on Read by QxMD

If you include this link on a mobile site, iOS users will have Read launch (if installed), or prompted to download Read if not installed.  If they are on a desktop browser or another mobile device, they’ll be provided with the article’s abstract.   Full support for the web and other platforms such as Android are coming soon.