Apple Opens ResearchKit To Medical Research App Developers

Apple announced ResearchKit at its special event in March, as an open framework that could be employed by scientists and medical research to gather data for studies. At the time, it showcased some apps built using the framework with select partners. Today, it’s opening ResearchKit up to all medical researchers, doctors and scientists and the app developers working with them.

In a release announcing the news, Apple noted that over 60,000 participants have already enrolled in the first few apps launched using ResearchKit, which represents a huge increase when compared to the traditional methods of signing up volunteers for new studies. The open source framework includes a few basic, customizable modules, and since it is open, Apple is encouraging developers to build new modules and modify existing ones.

The basic framework includes tools for collecting participant consent, conducting surveys and assigning active tasks to participants that they can perform to help researchers achieve specific study goals.

TechCrunch spoke to one early partner for ResearchKit, breast cancer non-profit organization Susan G. Komen, about Share The Journey, an app built using the framework. CEO Judy Salerno told TC’s Natasha Lomas that ResearchKit significantly lowers the traditional barriers to entry for participant recruitment, and noted that by evening on the same day ResearchKit was announced, the Share The Journey app had already enrolled around 7,000 participants.

ResearchKit can use data from participant iPhones, including accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone and GPS info, and can also access HealthKit information gathered by other apps and accessories, provided the iPhone user participating in the study agrees to share said data with apps built using the framework.