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Google is not the only company getting into the med tech game. On Monday, along with a smart watch, Apple unveiled ResearchKit, a collection of apps that will help researchers collect data from those who use iPhones and Apple Watches. There are already 5 apps in ResearchKit. One sponsored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research measures the hand and voice tremors of those with Parkinson’s disease.

So what’s the real benefit?

It will allow scientists to collect data from millions of people. Currently, the sample size of any study is significantly limited to individuals who have the time and ability to contact or travel to and from a research institution. Now, scientists can get insight and direct access 24/7 to the health of a much larger population. This will help expand clinical trials and may even make it cheaper for scientists to conduct them. In addition, ResearchKit is open-source, which will enable any researcher to design an application for their study. It will also help patients find clinical trials that may be well-suited for them and provide them with easy access.

As for the cons, there is concern, of course, about the quality of apps in ResearchKit. If an app is poorly designed, scientists may get bad data which would lead to incorrect conclusions which can be dangerous in medicine. In addition, it is also possible that clinical trials will become commercialized, and that patients may be drawn to using apps that have wealthier sponsors. However, these disadvantages can be solved with some regulatory rules that will help maintain ResearchKit’s integrity.

Think About:

1. What are other future implications of ResearchKit?
2. How else can wearable technology be used/is being used in medicine?
3. What kind of patient population can scientists access with ResearchKit?