Apple releases open-source ResearchKit to all medical researchers


On Tuesday, Apple announced the official release of ResearchKit, its platform for connecting medical researchers with iPhone users.

Previously, the platform had only been available to select medical institutions.

“We are delighted and encouraged by the response to ResearchKit from the medical and research community and the participants contributing to medical research. Studies that historically attracted a few hundred participants are now attracting participants in the tens of thousands,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, in a statement.

Jesse Shantz, a registered orthopaedic surgeon and chief scientist OMsignal, a Montreal startup that produces smart clothing, commented on ResearchKit for MobileSyrup, saying,“ReasearchKit allows surgeons to do research on a community level when they don’t have the infrastructure to follow patients’ progress between visits.”

He added, “The overall cost of each patient in a study to get an iPhone to make perfect data collection is lower than performing physiotherapy, for example.”

Despite the advantages it offers to researchers, Shantz said ResearchKit may not gain widespread adoption in Canada due to privacy concerns with the platform. Data that is gathered through ResearchKit is stored on servers in the United States, and Canadian institutions may be worried that their patients’ data will be accessed through measures like the Patriot Act.