Apple iPhone 6 Is Saving Lives: ResearchKit Apps Enable Apple Users Worldwide To Contribute To Medical Studies

Apple is finally releasing its newest medical platform ResearchKit to a broader range of researchers and developers after it received overwhelming support from medical practitioners and iPhone users.

Since ResearchKit was first introduced last month, thousands of iPhone users have demonstrated support for the apps created from the framework. Bloomberg reported that less than 24 hours after the MyHearts Counts app using the Apple ResearchKit tool was released by the Stanford University, around 11,000 iPhone users have already signed up. Medical director of Stanford Cardiovascular Health Alan Yeung was stunned at the results of Apple’s endeavor.

“To get 10,000 people enrolled in a medical study normally, it would take a year and 50 medical centers around the country. That’s the power of the phone.”

Weeks after the release, more than 60,000 iPhone users have already signed up for different studies like asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. BGR reported that starting April 14, ResearchKit is already available to all researchers and developers to create more studies that would benefit the field of medicine and potentially save more lives.

ResearchKit is the framework to be used by developers to create iPhone apps that will be available to the public for download. Alongside Apple’s Health app and HealthKit software framework, the ResearchKit app will be able to access the sensors on the iPhone such as the gyroscope, accelerometer, microphone, and GPS sensors to enable measurement of gait, motor activities, fitness, voice, and memory, among others.

Although there are critics on the reliability of the results generated by ResearchKit apps, Todd Sherer, CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, tells Bloomberg how iPhone users could help medical researchers in advancing their studies.

“I don’t think we want to give the perception that this type of research will replace the more standard, physician-based, direct interaction with the patient,” Sherer said. “But I do think this provides a complementary type of research in a different way. Any kind of tool that will make it easier to engage more people in research is really important.”

Some of the first ResearchKit-based apps released for beta testing before the formal Apple announcement last Tuesday were the Asthma Health app from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and LifeMap Solutions, the Share the Journey app developed by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with Penn Medicine, Sage Bionetworks, and UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Parkinson mPower app by Sage Bionetworks and the University of Rochester.

As of date, the apps will only be available to iPhone users in the U.S. However, Apple said ResearchKit will be available in more countries in the future.

ResearchKit-based apps will be available to the latest iPod touch, iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus.

[Image courtesy of Jason Howle from Flickr]