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Apple's medical research kit gets thousands of sign-ups (and concerns)

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
March 12, 2015
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Apple built its ResearchKit platform in part to get many more people signing up for medical studies, and it appears to be delivering on that promise in spades. The early partners tell Bloomberg that they got thousands of volunteers within a day of launch, including 11,000 for a Stanford University cardiovascular trial -- for context, Stanford says that it would normally take a national year-long effort to get that kind of scale. The flood of data will theoretically improve the quality of the findings, especially since the automatic, phone-based tracking should prevent people from fibbing about their activity levels.

The kit may not be as much of a windfall as institutions would like, though. A large test sample only matters if there are enough quality results -- many of those sign-ups might not be ideal candidates. Apps might not account for every question that a doctor would want to ask, either, and poorly-built apps may not completely respect your privacy. Still, the surge is promising. So long as the adoption rate doesn't slow down dramatically, hospitals and schools could have a much easier time recruiting people for future trials.

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