Study: Apple’s ResearchKit platform generates reliable data in asthma study

Health data collected entirely from smartphones can be reliable, research from Mount Sinai Hospital claims. The researchers involved found — as noted by The Verge -- that Apple’s ResearchKit platform and an app for asthma were fairly accurate when compared to existing patient studies.

ResearchKit turns an iPhone into a tool for medical research by helping doctors, scientists and other researchers gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants anywhere in the world using iPhone apps. Participants enrolled in these app-based studies can review an interactive informed consent process, easily complete active tasks or submit survey responses, and choose how their health data is shared with researchers, making contributions to medical research easier than ever.

Apple has made ResearchKit “open source,” which means a developer can quickly design a research study for iPhone. Developers can also build on the available software code and contribute their tasks back to the community to help other researchers do more with the framework. Using a new module just released to the open source community, researchers can now incorporate genetic data into their studies in a seamless, simple and low cost way. 

In the Mount Sinai Hospital study, nearly 50,000 iPhone users downloaded the asthma app. Of these, about 7,600 people enrolled in the six-month study after completing the consent form. People in the study took surveys on how they treated their asthma; the app also provided information about location and air quality. 

The scientists then looked at how this patient-reported data measured up when compared to external factors. 

Mount Sinai Hospital notes that smartphone-based studies have limitations. This method of gathering data is good for studies that only last for a short amount of time and that need to quickly enroll participants across the country. Theres also low retention rate. In this study, about 85% of people completed at least one survey, while about 30% completed more than one over six months.