Introduction

ResearchKit is an open source software framework designed for medical research, which facilitates the development of mHealth apps and the collection of a wide range of scientific data.

Thus, ResearchKit allows users from all over the world to participate actively in research, and in addition, it gives experts the unique opportunity to use the full capabilities of iPhone to explore the healthcare field (“ResearchKit Framework Programming Guide,” 2017).

All that converts ResearchKit into a leading diagnostic tool, and consequently, it transforms Apple into a digital health pillar.

            Foundations: ResearchKit, based on the solid foundations of Apple and orientated towards the future perspectives of medicine, is more than impressive. Launched by Apple in March 2015 and shipped with iOS 8.3, ResearchKit can be described as a continuation of HealthKit (Zens et al., 2017). In simple words, HealthKit is a framework that helps Health apps within HealthKit send information to each other, which can be analyzed further by a medical practitioner.

Purpose: To be more precise, ResearchKit is an iPhone application development framework designed for research in the field of healthcare. Unlike other systems, ResearchKit is more tech advanced and user-friendly. As Apple CEO Tim Cook stated, “ResearchKit is going to transform medical research.” By letting experts create medical research apps, ResearchKit eliminates paperwork, facilitates recruitment, and tracks everyday activities in order to collect medical data for research.

Availability: Its open-source framework facilitates research, transparency, data collection, and research management. It doesn’t require additional hardware or any complicated installation steps. Simply because ResearchKit uses Apple devices, apps, and cloud data platforms. Note that its source code is distributed under an open license via GitHub (Zens et al., 2017) and in general, Xcode is required to develop iOS apps. So, although ResearchKit was intended for developers at influential academic and medical institutions, such as Stanford Children’s Hospital and Harvard University, ResearchKit is available for everyone now.

Parties: As an open source software tool, ResearchKit can benefit researchers, developers, practitioners, and patients. In the end, ResearchKit is all about data, and experts can collect and manage information from people all over the world (“Apple ResearchKit: Everything you need to know about the medical research platform,” 2017). First of all, developers can use the platform to create apps that can gather information or collect existing data from devices, such as Apple Watch. On the other hand, patients can download newly developed health apps within the ResearchKit base (from the App Store) and participate in a study. Users can also allow access to data from Apple Health app. Consequently, practitioners can use the collected data and provide treatment and support.

Features: To be more specific, to allow collaboration and guarantee the success of huge clinical trials, ResearchKit has been created with some crucial features that keep improving (“What Is Apple’s ResearchKit and Why Is It Important?” 2015):

  • ResearchKit is an open source.
  • It offers integration with Apple’s HealthKit.
  • ResearchKit consists of survey management, informed consent, and active tasks.
  • It allows workflow control between users and researchers.