Apple ResearchKit (Part 1): Introduction & Capabilities 2

Photo by Wilfred Iven from

Photo by Wilfred Iven from

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Apple has a knack for making technology that, to paraphrase Arthur C. Clarke, feels a bit magical. It turns out that’s the sort of technology people strongly prefer to use. As a result, Apple has built a loyal consumer following, suggesting that commitment to a delightful technology experience is simply good business. Professionals in all industries have taken note of Apple’s success, and clinical research professionals are no exception.

I and others working in clinical innovation have looked to Apple for inspiration on how we might use technology to improve the patient experience. How can we make research participation more delightful and less frustrating? How can we distill a very complex process into an experience that feels very simple for research participants? How can we make clinical research more…Apple-like? Now we won’t have to look much further for potential answers. Apple itself is seeking to answer these questions.

Apple recently announced ResearchKit, creating waves far beyond the clinical research community. ResearchKit is an open-source framework that provides researchers and application developers with a platform to build mobile study apps. Apple’s announcement was accompanied by the release of five ResearchKit-built apps. Because the ResearchKit framework integrates multiple capabilities into one platform, researchers have a single destination to conduct research. And patients have a single destination to participate in research, simply by downloading any chosen study app onto their mobile device.