Asthma study yields reliable data using Apple ResearchKit, smartphones

Dive Brief:

  • A research team at Mount Sinai Hospital showed its possible to produce reliable health data using smartphones, The Verge reported.
  • In the study, published Monday in Nature Biotechnology, the researchers used Apple ResearchKit to create an iOS app to assess asthmatics’ symptoms, presumed triggers and medication adherence and compared the results with existing patient studies.
  • Launched in March 2016, the Asthma Mobile Health Study resulted 50,000 downloads of the app within six months. In all, 7,593 people enrolled in the study, 85% of whom completed at least one survey. About one-third (2,317) became what the researchers called “robust users,” completing multiple surveys.

Dive Insight:

The study could boost confidence in mobile health solutions by demonstrating that its possible to get large-scale, evidence-based data to support their use. And with smartphone use on the rise, the technology provides another platform for conducting such studies.

Getting enough people to participate in clinical studies to yield useful results can be challenging, and smartphones could be an answer. Besides being convenient, they allow researchers to enroll patients without regard to location.

However, skeptics have questioned whether data collected via smartphones is reliable and should be part of the medical literature, influencing medical practice. The Mount Sinai study suggests that it can, at least for certain types of research. Though the researchers did admit the study had limitations, such as only about a third becoming robust users as well as selection bias, reporting bias and data security.

While the limitations are significant, the study does point to a positive direction over thinking about how to use smartphones-generated health data in clinical trials.

Filed Under: Health IT