Will allow for data collection in near real-time

Apple's new research tool is open source

By Mike Miliard
03:10 PM
Doctor with virtual touchscreen

A brand new health app unveiled today by Apple represents something of a departure for the Cupertino, Calif. colossus: It's open source.

[See also: Apple strides into healthcare]

ResearchKit, which can work in tandem with the iPhone and HealthKit platform, can enable more -- and faster -- advances in research and innovation according to Apple, which touted five apps already available, focused on five of the most prevalent chronic conditions: diabetes, asthma, Parkinson's, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

ResearchKit could address several problems plaguing the medical research community – namely, small sample sizes, issues with subjective data and the frequency of data collected, said Jeff Williams, Apple's senior vice president of operations.

"Disease symptoms ebb and flow daily, almost hourly," he said, thus requiring a platform that can gather data in real-time from a wide range of sources.

Speaking via video feed at the Apple’s event, Kathryn Schmitz, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania noted that UPenn has sent out more than 60,000 letters trying to recruit patients for a breast cancer study, an approach that netted some 300 participants. 

This new framework will also enable researchers to collect data in near real-time, changing the scale from months to seconds, she said: "That’s a game-changer.

Read more of Tom Sullivan's report at mHealth news.