Can Apple’s ResearchKit change the way you collect clinical data?

Applications have the potential to turn patient smart phones into sophisticated data collection tools, and connect patients, researchers, clinicians and their data like never before. Applications allow for expanded participation (users can choose which research studies they want to be a part of, and what data to share). They allow for interactive and informed consent processes (step by step instructions and communication), sharing data across multiple applications (for instance, to track fitness activities by “talking” to a fitness app), for complete protection of patient data and for data collection (scheduling patient surveys and active tasks).

The first five research applications were released on March 9, 2015. They address research goals in different areas from asthma to Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease. They harness technology readily available on smart phones, like the GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, touch screen, and microphone to take and record data on activities such as the length of activity, gait, tapping ability, spatial memory, and phonation.

Can #Apple’s #ResearchKit change the way you collect clinical data?

Now that ResearchKit is available to developers, many academic research institutions, pharmaceutical companies and medtech organizations are asking about it. Research Kit is an open-source framework for developing medical research apps.

  • A “kit” is a developer tool that your app developer will use to speed up the creation of your app. Essentially, a kit is a library of quality, standard code that the developer will use instead of creating these pieces from scratch.

Hundreds of millions of smartphones PLUS connectivity to research facilities PLUS data privacy equals a whole brave new world of clinical research data.

From the Apple ResearchKit page

Creating an App is multistep process.

Wireframing your App

  • A wireframe is a set of sketches that define how your app will be used, how many screens it will have, what all the buttons will do, how it all connects, and how your app will be monetized.
Example sign in page

“Backends” for apps that need Databases or want to be Social

  • Data should be stored securely, on the device or better yet, in the cloud, and multiple data types such as pictures, videos, and location data etc, should be handled with ease. If data is transferred between app users, or connected to other common social media sites, a backend database will be required. One of my favorites is Parse.

Art Assets

Every app needs design elements! Whether you are looking for realistic, photo quality art or generic graphic design, you will likely need to contract a skilled specialist to create this for you.


  • Track any data point or occurrence in your app. How many new users? how many active users? Track user demographics, track crashes (errors can be parsed based on device and operating) and understand your app’s use (what pages are being accessed, what buttons are being pushed?). One of my favorite analytics sites is Flurry.

Web Presence

  • A simple (landing page)website that shows your app’s home page, lists the features, social media buttons, email sign up and most importantly, links to download the app. This can be created easily with a site like Wix, Wordpress, Weebly, Squarespace and many others.

Tech Support, Bug Reporting and “Push” Notifications

  • Tech support; You will need an email address or phone number for troubleshooting, for your app especially but also for the device its on!

At 32ATPs, we are the bridge between clinicians and graphic artists and application developers. We offer the supporting infrastructure for researchers and clinicians who need to develop apps to connect them with patients or for basic research, say teams collecting crowdsourced data. If you are looking would like to create an app but don’t know how to get started, reach out to us today!

Founder | Scientist. Teacher. Author.

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