Apple’s ResearchKit has made great inroads into medical research studies that are open to a wide audience, do not require medical intervention and where participants can self-select and sign up.


The main reason that Apple ResearchKit has been so successful here is the fact that research study participation is through mobile apps that allow participants to participate at their convenience, on their own terms. There are no paper forms to fill, no phone surveys, just a mobile app that makes providing data easy and in many cases prepopulates the study responses from device data collected by the phone. Universities and hospitals have released research apps in a variety of ways, to collect responses in standard and innovative non-standard ways.

The untapped area in the research space is in the use of mobile apps in the pharmaceutical industry for clinical trials. These trials are usually highly controlled and require data to be entered by the study investigator or by qualified medical personnel. There is not much data provided directly by the patient, especially in early phase trials. However there is still a strong case for using ResearchKit apps in these situations. The only difference here is that the app would be used by the investigator instead of the patient to provide data for the study. It is a mobile app version of the CRF form and where the ResearchKit fits in is that it streamlines the process of gathering data through the framework that is customized for the steps involved in a research study. With sophisticated verifiable digital signature technologies, data validation and correction at source as well as implementation of robust security, use of mobile apps in clinical trials could be the next big thing for the Pharma industry.

ResearchKit is also particularly useful in Phase 4 trials where the amount of self-reported data provided by the patient is higher. There is also a good use case to be made tie Apple’s CareKit into the research process. CareKit can be used to build mobile apps targeted towards patients that serve up medication reminders, appointment notifications and more to help individuals participating in the study keep track of their activities and motivate them to continue participation.

Apple ResearchKit is flexible enough to work in different situations and it would be the responsibility of the mobile app developer to ensure that the app is compliant with research guidelines.

Learn how to use smartphone features innovtively to build research apps.Watch this demo researchkit app to know more!