Since the beginning of its career, Apple has released many different products: the Mac computers, iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Apple Watch to name a few. Most recently, Apple released possibly the most important product ever. It’s called ResearchKit. This software toolkit allows research scientists to write iPhone apps for medical studies. This may sound like a bore, but it is a huge deal.
Every year, people buy 1 billion smartphones and 70 million wearable health trackers. These devices monitor our daily habits from how much we move and sleep to our pulse, stress, perspiration, sunlight exposure, and more. These devices collect an insane amount of data that scientists should have access to, but before this invention, they weren’t able to access any of it! We are indirectly conducting the biggest clinical trial in human history, and the results are going down the drain. But, not for much longer!
Apple worked with five medical institutions including Harvard, Stanford, and Mount Sinai, to devise the first five ResearchKit based apps. They represent studies of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s and breast cancer. The sign-in process is electronic as well which eliminates a researcher sitting down with you asking questions going over paperwork. This saves a whole lot of time and energy, so that more time can be spent on the actual research and data analysis. Data from participants who do not suffer from these ailments will be used as a control.
The best part about this app is that it is a two- way study. The app will prompt you every day to complete certain tasks which will send data to the researchers. Eventually, they will have enough data to figure out a way to treat people on a personal level rather than devising one drug for everyone to try until it works.
So what was Apple’s motivation? You’d think they want to sell even more iPhones, but contrary to popular belief, Apple is not making a profit. They have made ResearchKit open source, meaning their rivals like Samsung, Google and Microsoft can have at it for free! This gigantic move has the potential to impact public health on such a large scale. Furthermore, it helps reach/ recruit a large number of people, bring down the cost of large clinical research studies, make it easy to reach a broad geographic population, and collect more continuous, real- world, quantitative data. Dr. Schadt of Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC states: “You’re not only going to maintain a healthier, more productive person, but you’ll save the health system a lot of money as well. That’s where I think this is all going to have a really dramatic impact on public health.”
Pogue, David. “Apple’s ResearchKit Takes Medical Research Years Into the Future.” Apple’s ResearchKit Takes Medical Research Years Into the Future. 4 May 2015. Web. 5 May 2015. <https://www.yahoo.com/tech/apples-researchkit-takes-medical-research-years-117781601479.html>.