Will Apple ResearchKit Be a Game Changer for HealthTech?

Personalised healthcare is likely to transform the way we prevent and treat diseases in the future, specially as IoT and Wearables become increasingly pervasive.

With smart monitoring devices already integrating seamlessly into our routines, companies are now looking at the best way to harness the wealth of data that they collect for research purposes.

Apple’s ResearchKit is one such initiative, giving researchers direct access to relevant data for their studies (daily step counts, heart rate, calorie use, etc.) and offering developers an open source framework that integrates seamlessly with HealthKit to allow them to create their own medical research apps.

In the two years since its launch, the kit has already proven useful for clinical trials, with hundreds of thousands of people contributing data for studies ranging from diabetes to epilepsy, melanoma, asthma and breast cancer.

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It’s somewhat surprising, then, that it has taken big pharma companies so long to get on board. Recently, however, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced that it was launching a new research app on the platform to help monitor rheumatoid arthritis patients.

GSK’s PARADE (Patient Rheumatoid Arthritis Data from the Real World) study aims to tackle this debilitating disease by learning from patient insights and therapeutic goals. They are currently seeking volunteers (aged over 21 and diagnosed with RA) to monitor their health and share those insights into how RA affects their lives.

This data will be collected through a mixture of surveys and iPhone sensors which will track common RA symptoms such as fatigue, joint pain and overall mood. The study will not provide diagnosis or treatment, but will allow patients to view their own study data and learn more about their condition.

The study will track 300 patients over a three-month period. GSK believes that collecting data from mobile devices in this way will in future help to alleviate the burden on patients by reducing the need for frequent doctor visits during clinical studies. More broadly, as sensors — and even implants — become increasingly sophisticated, doctors will be able to accurately monitor patient progress continuously and much more efficiently, with minimum intrusion upon their daily routine. The prospects are exciting, not only from a quality of life perspective, but considering the personalized medicine market was valued at over USD 1 billion in 2014 and is expected to more than double by 2022.

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Originally published at Alice Bonasio.