Top 5 Ways Apple’s ResearchKit is Empowering Medical Research

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By: Manish Shewaramani

5 Ways Apple’s ResearchKit is Empowering Medical Research

It’s impossible to imagine clinical trials without humans. To introduce new drugs into the market, it’s imperative to test their effectiveness on humans.

However, this is easier said than done.

The challenge lies in finding volunteers who will risk their lives to see whether a particular drug is impactful or not.

According to Center Watch, 86% of US clinical studies fail to recruit the required number of subjects on time.

Professor Kathryn Schmitz from the University of Pennsylvania recently sent about 60,000 letters for participation in a breast cancer study.

Only 0.005% signed up.

That’s heartbreaking.

This is not something new for researchers and scientists. It has been going on for decades now.

Fortunately, this is also set to change. Thanks to Apple’s new baby ResearchKit.

This open source platform for medical research will make it easier for scientists to build apps that collect health-related data from volunteers via smartphones.

The sensors in iPhone and similar other devices (personal trackers) act as catalysts. Apps built using platforms like ResearchKit will deliver real-time data on health conditions and symptoms. This will help in clinical trials and developing custom therapies for various ailments.

Researchkit taps into the pool of data generated by Healthkit and making it accessible for medical studies.

Healthkit is Apple’s another platform for developers to build apps that gather health related data from healthkit compatible apps which track heart rate, calories burnt, blood sugar and cholesterol levels etc.

Learn more about HealthKit here.

Here’s how ResearchKit will revolutionize the medical research space

  • Access to Precise Data

In traditional researchers, researchers don’t have any proof of accuracy other than the snapshots of a participant’s health who wears a heart monitor for two or three times during a 24-hour period.

Also sometimes participants don’t provide correct data because of financial compensation issues.

While using iPhone, researchers may have more accurate data as ResearchKit the leverages the advantages of HealthKit to collect information on heart rate, activity level, and more in real-time

It also helps scientists avoid incurring extra money that needs to be paid to participants to extract right information.

  • Reduce The Research Timeframe

Well, moving to different hospitals or labs, and then completing the paperwork is very time-consuming process for a large-scale research. Moreover, it’s quite difficult to reach the large user base and collect data in less time.

Apps built using ResearhKit allow people to take part anytime, anywhere. The device (iPhone or iPad) is virtually in their pocket and they can volunteer easily.

Also, when it becomes easier to participate in the research, automatically larger sample sizes can be available.

LifeMap Solutions and Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine recently joined hands for a research. Using the Asthma Health App developed with ResearchKit, they ensured that over 3500 people participated in their research study in less than 72 hours. This, otherwise, would have been impossible.

  • Enable global research

Conducting the research across the globe is tricky. At many places, due to some restrictions or unfavorable conditions, participants won’t step in for clinical study.

With ResearchKit, geography and distance matter no more. Anyone, anytime and anywhere in the world can provide health-related data concerning specific problems or symptoms.

Also, the data from such apps helps researchers in understanding lifestyle and health behaviors of different people and its influence on their life.

  • Take actions swiftly

Medical research takes a long time to establish any result or draw out any conclusion. In that meantime, it may be possible the cause of the disease may increase at large scale and no appropriate action can be taken.

However, with iPhones when organizations get the data and if it requires any immediate action, then using iPhone’s GPS, it will become easy to track the pathogen’s location. And finally, prompt action and timely decision can be made accordingly.

  • Personalize the treatment

Self-managing the diseases and precautions to be taken by the patients is not an ordinary job. Also, they are sometimes walled off from the critical health information by the doctors.

For instance, asthma patient can consult the doctor and take the prescriptions provided by them, but unable to track which place they should not visit because of the poor quality of air or forget to take the medicines at right time.

Here, Asthma app on iPhone would help them by analyzing the GPS data, weather, air quality, and other factors to identify a probable cause. Also, reminds about the medicine that they have to take.


Apple’s latest offering not only eases the research, it even helps examine the patients in a far better way. Five apps as a part of Researchkit have already gone viral.

Well, there are many more possibilities yet to be discovered!

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