Friday, March 13, 2015

Apple's Researchkit and the Future of Health Studies

There are so many technology companies out there working to solve our health issues, but some have come and gone, many have succeeded in a variety of ways, while others have struggled to make any impact despite tremendous effort. When I listen to this (obviously staged) call in to Mad Money, its impressive to hear that collaboration on research disease is started to really take off...
NEWS HEADLINE:Apple released its ResearchKit as an open source tool “designed to give scientists a new way to gather information on patients by using their iPhones.” Reuters has reported that institutions like Stanford University School of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College are already using the platform to research conditions and diseases such as asthma, breast cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.
When researchers can put the word out about an app, and get people to participate in a way that helps them correlate more data on the pathology of illness than ever before, you know something is going right.
Cook: "You know, it's really incredible. Since, uh, in the first 24 hours of ResearchKit, we've had 11,000 people sign up for a study in cardiovascular disease through Stanford University's app. And, to put that in perspective, Stanford has told us that it would have taken normally 50 medical centers an entire year to sign up that many participants.

So ResearchKit is an absolute game changer."

Makes you hopeful that we may start moving the needle further on preventable deaths of those we love.

There are some perspectives on whether Researchkit will really be as "Open Source" as Apple claims.  But, I'm hoping that at the very least its another piece of connective tissue for scientific collaboration.

I remember back in 2003 when Steve Jobs announced Safari as a browser based on Open Source code and how that eventually led to Google Chrome and much of the revolution around better standards used amongst a vast number of companies.  They later pushed HTML5 as the answer to web multimedia over custom plugins like Flash and Java that continue to be major pain points around security and malware.

But, one can't forget things Apple said would be "open" that never became so.  In 2010, at their Worldwide Developer conference, Steve Jobs received a round of applause when he made the following announcement.
Job: "We're going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow, and we're going to make FaceTime an open industry standard."
Here's hoping Researchkit follows more closely with Webkit than it does FaceTime.