At its media event on Monday, Apple announced a new platform to address the medical research industry, in hopes of improving communication between doctors, researchers, and patients. It’s called “ResearchKit.”
Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior VP of operations, took the stage to discuss this new toolkit, which hopes to help medical researchers face some of their biggest challenges: Namely, researchers have a difficult time finding volunteers, and they also have to figure out how to look at subjective data — like, for instance, when they ask a patient to rate pain on a scale from 1 to 10.
Thanks to Health and HealthKit, which were introduced last year, iPhones now collect data about certain aspects of a person’s health. But for this new tool, Apple has been working with researchers across the world, from Stanford to Oxford and even universities in China, to develop new applications and frameworks to help accommodate patients, doctors, and researchers.
Apple helped build the first five ResearchKit apps with these companies: The first apps target Parkinson’s, diabetes, asthma, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Once a person signs up for studies through these apps, they will be asked to complete certain activities: In the Parkinson’s app, for example, patients can tap two points repeatedly to test the magnitude of tremors, and similarly say “ahhhh” into their iPhone’s microphone for as long as they can. This will provide doctors with a lot of reliable data to further their own research.
Most importantly, you’re allowed to control whether or not you want to participate in any studies, and you’re free to choose how much data you want to share: ResearchKit apps let you see the data you’re sharing with researchers.
ResearchKit is also open platform and open-source. The first five apps will be available on Tuesday, but the entire platform will be available next month.
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