An app a day keeps the doctor away.

This week saw Apple reveal a few more interesting nuggets of information about it’s upcoming Apple Watch, along with the new uber slim MacBook.

Apple SVP of Operations, Jeff Williams announcing ResearchKit

However, one of the most interesting features announced was ResearchKit, a new medical research and health platform that allows health institutions and research facilities to create and push out apps for medical research purposes. This enables the net to be cast far wider to a cross section of potential participants and illnesses compared to current or more traditional research capabilities.

Todd Sherer, CEO of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, said that a traditional study with 800 participants over five years cost around $60M.
The Parkinson’s app had 5,589 participants in less than 24 hours.

With these apps, users can take part in trials and research into all sorts of medical conditions simply using their iPhones. We believe there is huge potential for innovation into researching medical conditions and it is definitely an area to watch (excuse the pun).

Imagine when future versions of the Apple Watch allow continuous monitoring of your heartbeat, temperature, blood oxygen levels and more. Not only could it produce vast amounts of pertinent information for research into medical conditions, it could also provide answers.

“Numbers are everything. The more people who contribute their data, the bigger the numbers, the truer the representation of a population, and the more powerful the results. A research platform that allows large amounts of data to be collected and shared — that can only be a positive thing for medical research.”
Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, American Heart Association

A friend of my wife has a daughter who suffers from sporadic fits, much like epilepsy (they are still unsure if that is what it might be). All they know is that it seems to be caused when she has a temperature spike; potentially an under developed hypothalamus (she is only 4).

The hospital has been great, very supportive and she has had a raft of MRI and other scans and assessments to determine the cause, but I can see that if they were able to look back through data gathered by her Apple Watch in the hours before any seizure, they could potentially gain an insight into what might be causing not only her fits, but also any temperature spikes that could possibly determine any underlying issue.

My Dad has had Type 1 Diabetes since he was about 19. He has taken insulin everyday for the past 41 years and uses the pin-prick measurement to test his blood glucose levels.

It would be great if there was a way to maintain a record of his insulin levels and blood glucose automatically via wearable tech. This could be combined with other data, such as calorie intake and activity, to provide a more holistic view of his condition and a far more detailed reference point for doctors upon his yearly checkup. It could also alert him when his levels are low, so he can take pre-emptative action to prevent a fit.

I also think that enabling people to take control of their medical data just makes a lot of sense.

Your medical records should be yours, that you allow doctors to update with new information or access as and when needed. This provides transparency amongst all health care professionals and a better, more rounded approach to care and your own individual medical issues and needs.

This makes the current system seem archaic to me. All this data gathered throughout your life, one mess of paperwork and legacy systems, data held in silos, by different doctors and hospitals, none of which are linked into one central system and profile that is yours to control. Now that, in my opinion, is the future.