Look how Apple lowered the threshold by the Medical Research Software Development

One of the most difficult medical research is to obtain adequate clinical trial samples. For that I am a little experience: Medical school when the school will send a weekly e-mail to recruit study volunteers, most of which were thrown into the trash me directly.

Most people do medical research volunteers reservations. In addition to becoming discomfort mice, distrust of outside the hospital, but also because of a research volunteer is not an easy undertaking. Although sometimes get paid a lot of money, but on condition that the whole must work with a doctor, many studies also need long-term record of the body index, and subject to regular visits. Therefore, medical research institutions, research volunteers are recruited first-ever major problem. Penn Medicine doctoral student Kathryn Schmitz on Apple mentioned that she sent out 60,000 e-mail to recruit study volunteers, only 305 responses were received.

Apple realized that manpower is a smartphone for clinical research data collection tool. Users have become accustomed to allow smartphones to collect fingerprints from locations such as personal information, the current smart phone hardware has long been supported by the development of more sophisticated software. The problem is that medical researchers are not good at making user-oriented software, did not have time and money to develop a stand-alone app, and UI design for each function.

Apple tried to approach software development to reduce the threshold to recruit volunteers in medical research. Apple officially announced last week, much talk at the conference in March of the developer of the framework ResearchKit. User-oriented monitoring and personal health information HealthKit different, ResearchKit target audience is developers aim through the development process and the use of standardized methods for sample collection methods for innovative clinical research.

Developers ResearchKit framework consists of three modules that can be customized: Participants license (Participant Consent), surveys (Survey), active task (Active Task). It meets Mac / iOS programming specifications, but they are also an open source project on GitHub. For medical researchers, the biggest benefit is to provide a standardized paradigm, controlled GUI, thus simplifying the development process.

"Active Tasks" (Active Task) is ResearchKit develop the basic unit, follow a protocol called ORKTask. Apple iPhone hardware features preset according to some of the basic activities of the task, and lists the sensors which are called, to collect data. For example, gait and balance, click speed test, health, spatial memory tests and so on. For example, after adding an activity gait and balance this task, the application can call the acceleration sensors, gyroscopes and motion pedometer data collection devices. Developers can also add your own active tasks.

Activities include a series of tasks in an orderly arrangement of objects: "Step" (step). Steps include simple "if" answer, such as "Do you read and understand the above," also includes a display table, and other actions to collect information from the voice or memory tests.

Therefore, developers can like building blocks, setting a series of steps to collect critical data, and combine them to active duty to go join to form the main functions of the app. This is more than an ordinary iOS app developers a lot easier. To further simplify the operation, ResearchKit also provides many preset options, for example, can add the most simple "is the" answer, select an answer and values, or enter the date and text in step.

In addition, between each step and activity task has a view controller (ORKStepViewController) to generate interaction. ArsTechnica article mentioned that, generally speaking, developers need to write the details of the interaction in Xcode. The use ResearchKit framework, only need to set the step object (ORKQuestionStep) and added to the active task to go, after setting up the interface will be automatically generated by the underlying framework. This further reduces the development threshold.

ResearchKit not offer features include background sensor data collection, which means that the application can not continue to collect data, but you can grab data HealthKit and CoreMotion API. ResearchKit not support pre-investigation or active task, so the app can not be sent on ResearchKit timed reminder to the user. In addition, for the purpose of user privacy, Apple does not go back on your own server to store data, so the researchers to ensure the secure transmission of data back to their own research institutions.

ResearchKit not only simplifies the first step in the study, but also simplifies the steps the user authorized to participate in medical research. Users only need to read the statement and signature confirmation on the phone screen you can participate in the study. Collaboration with Mount Sinai, Weill Cornell Medical College to develop asthma applications LifeMap Solution CEO Corey Brideges think, ResearchKit most revolutionary part is to provide a standard licensing agreement, allowing users to participate in medical research time and financial costs greatly reduced the scope of the sample and the number increased.

In an interview in Bridege ArsTechnica said, generally speaking, the number of participants in a clinical study by the geographical restrictions, obtain permission to include participants in terms of cost constraints. The cost on the App Click licensing is very small, and users do not need to visit the hospital, as long as the smart phone will be able to carry at all times to provide research data.

Bridge said that in the first week of ResearchKit released, he and Mt. Sinai Hospital researchers jointly developed app to get a license 4500 participants. He said:

Electronic license is groundbreaking because it can help medical researchers who present a major obstacle to clinical research breakthroughs. It can reach the world's Internet users use the iPhone, increase volunteers participated in the study, significantly expanding the size of the sample, while reducing costs.

Bridge also believes that "Compared with traditional research, ResearchKit improve the efficiency of the entire process of data collection and research, and to collect more comprehensive data." Environmental data is a good example of such monitoring by patients with asthma app symptoms, location, air quality and other comprehensive indicators to help establish environmental and symptoms in medical research links this information is accurate clinical data collection in the current difficult to obtain.


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