Yale signs on to Apple's ResearchKit for heart disease study

Yale researchers will use Apple's ResearchKit for a study of individuals with heart disease.--Courtesy of Apple

Apple ($AAPL) has been gaining momentum for its ResearchKit since rolling out the platform earlier this year, with the first batch of studies using the product recording high rates of enrollment for sponsors. The platform's success caught the eye of Yale University scientists, who are planning to use ResearchKit for a study of heart problems in children and adults.

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine are developing an app that runs through ResearchKit and compiles self-assessments from patients with cardiomyopathies, or heart diseases that limit the organ's ability to pump blood through the body. The app will record information about individuals' life and heart-related symptoms, and will also provide feedback on patients' physical function and heart rate trends.

"Understanding how these conditions affect people's day-to-day lives is of significant importance in better treating patients," E. Kevin Hall, one of the developers of the app, told Yale News. "We believe this app will go a long way in helping us learn how to improve patients' quality of life."

As part of the study, children and adults with the disease will fill out questionnaires to see how cardiomyopathy affects different age groups. The questions are tailored to different ages, the Yale News article notes, and parents complete answers for the youngest group of children. Adults aged 18 and older participate in the study on their own. An educational element of the app includes resources that help patients understand cardiomyopathies.

ResearchKit is also picking up traction at other universities, with Stanford University School of Medicine in August expanding its ResearchKit-based heart health study to Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. The team plans to bring its MyHeart Counts study, which includes 41,000 people in the U.S., to other countries in the coming months.

But not everyone is signing on to the technology. Some critics are skeptical of ResearchKit's objectivity, as it relies on patient-reported information rather than facts to fuel clinical trials. And not everyone has access to a smartphone, which could produce skewed results.

"Just collecting lots of information about people--who may or may not have a particular disease, and may or may not represent the typical patient--could just add noise and distraction," said the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice's Lisa Schwartz told Bloomberg earlier this year. "Bias times a million is still bias."

- read the Yale News story