Medable launches Axon, enabling researchers to build ResearchKit apps without developers

By Heather Mack
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Palo Alto-based healthcare app and analytics platform Medable announced the launch of Axon, a SmartStudy system that enables researchers to create and deploy ResearchKit app for clinical trials or research studies on their own, without having to work with a developer. The company formally introduced the offering at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara. 

“Once ReasearchKit came out, we immediately saw a huge opportunity to better understand any research study, especially if we had more data and specifically patient-generated data from a mobile device,” Dr. Michelle Longmire, CEO of Medable told MobiHealthNews.

Longmire said the idea is similar to Survey Monkey, which delivers simple to use, secure surveys that are used in many research studies today. Medable’s vision was to create a system where a health expert could directly create an app taking data from the patient, since the expert would already have defined eligibility consent. As it has been, health researchers have had to wait for a developer to create an app for them, which is a long and prohibitive process.

“We realized the traditional development life cycles did not scale to meet the demand,” said Longmire. “The desire for patient-generated health data is huge, but you don’t want to wait six months for an app that has inferior quality, isn’t interoperable, isn’t HIPAA-compliant and is outdated by the time its available.”

Axon’s platform uses a point and click interface that connects to ResearchKit and adds extra capabilities without the need for researchers to write their own code. The platform enables disease prediction models to be generated from study data, paving the way for algorithmic and personalized medicine.

Over the last year, Medable has worked with researchers around the globe to develop mobile applications to study health and disease, and recognized the potential for smartphones and devices to usher in a new era of patient-physician connectivity. The company also has an internal compliance team and is identifying the early studies that have the data quality to develop algorithms to create precision medicine plans.

“Very quickly, this data will be leveraged from personalized medicine and to algorithmic medicine and then provide insights back to patients,” Longmire said. “At that point, since you are already in the regulated domain and have everything in place, you can use that data to develop drug and treatment plans.”

The company will embark on a two-armed approach to getting Axon out in the field: informing health researchers and experts about it, and training them how to use it. Currently, the company is working with investigators at the University of Southern California, Stanford, Northwestern University and others.

“Some of the stuff we talk about when we talk about precision medicine, we’re at a loss for real examples,” Longmire said. “But the customers we have so far have real opportunities. It really comes down to the investigators seeing the opportunity for mobile to provide insight.”