In a story that illustrates the “power of Apple,” we talk about Stanford University researchers who woke up only to find that 11,000 people had signed up for a cardiovascular study using Apple’s ResearchKit, less than 24 hours after the iPhone tool was introduced.
“To get 10,000 people enrolled in a medical study normally, it would take a year and 50 medical centers around the country,” said Alan Yeung, medical director of Stanford Cardiovascular Health. “That’s the power of the phone.”
Said tool allows iPhone owners to easily participate in clinical trial, while enabling researchers to get to study participants. Already, five academic centers have developed apps that use the iPhone’s built-in sensors to track the progression of chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease and asthma.
The question remains whether participants of these studies can be used as a representative sample.Alas, it’s not all black and white, with some researchers cautioning about potential flaws in the information gathered through ResearchKit. The software’s consent forms may not be clear enough, or its applications won’t capture data fully and accurately, and protect the privacy of participants. Moreover, the question remains whether participants of these studies can be used as a representative sample and in that sense, whether it can be used to prove a thing.
On the other hand, some argue that data collected using the iPhone can be even more accurate as users won’t be able to lie about their exercise activities with Apple’s handset collecting that information, or their lack off, in the background.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration supports tools like these that make data collection during clinical studies easier and more efficient.
“Mobile platforms and other tools could potentially contribute to efficient data collection, which could mean getting medical products to patients faster,” said Andrea Fischer, a spokeswoman at the agency.
ResearchKit isn’t considered a mobile medical app, she said. Mobile medical apps that could be used to diagnose or treat a disease require FDA approval.
The way we at mHealth Spot see things, there are scenarios where ResearchKit could prove as a beneficial tool, especially for researching into chronic conditions (which was the main point, for starters). Whether the group participating in the study is representative or not, the data gathered will have some value, helping researchers “clear out” at least one part of the population…