In March of last year, Apple created the ResearchKit, a medical platform which turns the iPhone into a diagnostic tool for clinical trials and studies. It allows companies wishing to perform trials to team up easily with those wishing to participate. Recently, GlaxoSmithKline announced itself as the first ever partner for the clinical trials, as it will be conducting a study on rheumatoid arthritis.
The open source software (ResearchKit) will also be able to record participants’ movement through sensors where it will ask them to do guided hand motions. This will give researchers a better idea of mobility without simply relying on self-reported data.
GlaxoSmithKline has stated that the app will hopefully help reduce the cost of gathering data for a study, as typically patients will have to travel to a central location even to self-report. Most companies are responsible for paying the patients’ travel fare, which can add up for them.
Rob DiCicco, GSK’s head of clinical innovation and digital platforms, said:
“Certainly you’ve also taken out the site costs, and the costs of having nurses and physicians explaining the studies to them and recording information. One thing we’ll learn is whether we made [the app] compelling enough to make you want to interact with it every day.”
Recently, Stanford University took advantage of the new framework, putting together a study of 11,000 participants in just one day. This would have previously been impossible without the introduction of ResearchKit. Apple hopes this will introduce itself as a major player in health technologies and provide solutions for hospitals and clinics.
DiCicco also stated:
By making research as easy and accessible as possible for patients, we have the potential to disrupt the model for how we conduct research in the future and ultimately improve patient health.”
While the app is free, there is one large barrier to participating in the study: you must be able to afford an iPhone.