Researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital have found that health data collected from Apple’s ResearchKit platform for one asthma study is reliable when compared to other methods, The Verge reports. The difficulty involved in recruiting study participants has made collecting data from smartphones—which is considerably easier—more appealing, but questions have always lingered about the accuracy of the data. The Mount Sinai study published in Nature Biotechnology suggests that the asthma study run with a smartphone app and that had data collected and reported by ResearchKit produced similar results to existing patient studies conducted with traditional methods.
The researchers were able to use the app to correlate data between a rise in asthma symptoms with external factors like wildfires, heat and pollen, but they did cite a difficulty in keeping people engaged long enough to complete the entire six-month study, with more than half of the study’s initial participants quitting before the actual end date. Limiting the data to those with iPhone also means the available user base might not create a reliable model of the general population since so many more people have Andriod phones than those made by Apple. But those limitations haven’t dulled interest in hospitals and firms looking to use ResearchKit. Just last month a ResearchKit study revealed new insights into the causes of seizures, and other studies of everything from melanoma to autism are ongoing.