Apple says its ResearchKit is now available to medical researchers. It’s a software framework designed for medical and health research that helps doctors, scientists and other researchers gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using mobile devices, is now available to researchers and developers.
The first research apps developed using ResearchKit study asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and have enrolled over 60,000 iPhone users in just the first few weeks of being available on the Apple App App Store, says Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. Now medical researchers all over the world will be able to use ResearchKit to develop their own apps and developers can also contribute new research modules to the open source framework.
“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,” says Williams. “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.”
The open source framework allows any medical researcher to take advantage of the initial modules in ResearchKit to study health and wellness and better understand disease. Developers can also build new modules based on the open source code and contribute them to ResearchKit. The initial customizable modules address the most common elements found in research studies — participant consent, surveys and active tasks.
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, says Williams. 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, he adds.
The survey module provides a pre-built user interface that lets users customize questions and answers for study participants to complete and immediately share with researchers.
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.
For more information on ResearchKit, visit www.apple.com/researchkit and for details on how to access the open source framework, visit www.researchkit.org.
ResearchKit apps are available on the Apple Store in the U.S. and will be rolling out to more countries in the future. iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and the latest generation of iPod touch support ResearchKit apps.