Yesterday, at the Apple Spring Forward event, Apple debuted the ResearchKit, an open-source software framework designed to benefit medical research, and specifically recruiting for clinical trials. ResearchKit looks like the ‘perfect medicine’ for clinical research to leapfrog from its current state where thousands of letters result in a few hundred enrolments in clinical trials. Since it is open source, ResearchKit provides a fantastic platform for developers to create new applications. For Apple, ResearchKit represents a huge step forward in going beyond plain vanilla wearables, and integrating health into its devices!
Apple has worked with world-class research institutions and universities around the world on the ResearchKit by creating specific apps. ResearchKit will be available in April, and the first five tests built into the device will help people participate in tests for Parkinson’s disease, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and breast cancer. At their event, Apple showcased a test for Parkinson’s disease that asks the user to perform quick tests on their iPhone to help diagnose the likelihood of contracting/developing the condition in later life.
Using ResearchKit, Apple users will have the flexibility to use their iPhones as diagnostic tools, and participate in medical research by sharing their data with healthcare institutions. Apple users have the option to choose what applications can have access to their data. Allaying and addressing the concerns of data privacy, Apple has promised complete privacy for user information and medical history.
For research institutes participating in the ResearchKit programme, this latest Apple move represents a hope that through the easy ‘opt-in’ option for customers, clinical trial enrolments will significantly increase, providing researchers with unprecedented amounts of data for studies.
The Apple ResearchKit, then, promises to bring about a paradigm shift in the way clinical trials are conducted and results collated to provide insights to research teams. This is going to be one interesting development! Watch this space for more.