A new clinical observation study published today by Nature Biotechnology (via The Verge) includes findings from an asthma test based on Apple’s ResearchKit framework. The asthma app relies on the iPhone app to voluntarily collect information, and the published study shows that such an approach can produce results.

We achieved secure bidirectional data flow between investigators and 7,593 participants from across the United States, including many with severe asthma. Our platform enabled prospective collection of longitudinal, multidimensional data (e.g., surveys, devices, geolocation, and air quality) in a subset of users over the 6-month study period. Consistent trending and correlation of interrelated variables support the quality of data obtained via this method.

While the study being published demonstrates how Apple’s ResearchKit framework can support apps for clinical observation in the real world, the study does highlight challenges created by this method as well.

Specifically, the study details “selection bias, low retention rates, reporting bias, and data security” as issues and challenges that will need attention before technology like ResearchKit can be deployed at a greater scale.

Still, the data accuracy proves that in the case of the asthma clinical observational study specifically, the iPhone-based app approach has great value and is worth investing in.

Apple’s ResearchKit framework was introduced alongside iOS 8 and later open sourced for medical researchers. Apple later released CareKit, a patient-facing version of the health framework for iOS.

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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created SpaceExplored.com.