Apple Announces ResearchKit Launches Today for Medical Researchers

Apple has just issued a press release to note ResearchKit is now available for medical researchers worldwide. The software framework will allow doctors, scientists and other researchers easily compile data from participants on iPhones with easy-to-use apps.

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The company says the first ResearchKit apps that studied asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease have enrolled over 60,000 iPhone users in the first few weeks of being available.

“We are delighted and encouraged by the response to ResearchKit from the medical and research community and the participants contributing to medical research. Studies that historically attracted a few hundred participants are now attracting participants in the tens of thousands,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “Medical researchers all over the world are actively exploring how ResearchKit can help them study even more diseases, and we believe the impact on global understanding of health and wellness will be profound.”

ResearchKit is an open source framework and allows customizable modules to target these common research study elements:

  • Participant consent: Participant consent is a critical element to research studies, and with ResearchKit researchers can access a visual e-consent template that can be customized to explain the details of the study and obtain participant signatures. This module makes it easy for the researcher to include elements such as video segments explaining the study and an interactive quiz to confirm the participant’s understanding.
  • Surveys: The survey module provides a pre-built user interface that makes it easy to customize questions and answers for study participants to complete and immediately share with researchers.
  • Active Tasks: The Active Task module enables researchers to gather more targeted data for their study by inviting participants to perform activities that generate data using iPhone’s advanced sensors. Initial Active Task modules include tasks to measure motor activities, fitness, cognition and voice, and with the framework available as open source, the research community can contribute even more active tasks to ResearchKit.

ResearchKit takes advantage of granted access to the iPhone’s accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone and GPS to see into a participant’s activity levels, motor impairments, memory and more. The framework also integrates seamlessly into HealthKit, which allows access to a participant’s activity data from the Health app and other linked third party devices and apps.