Asthma app moves from research to reality

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

One of the first apps developed through Apple's ResearchKit platform is now being used in clinical settings.

Officials at New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai reported positive results from six months of testing the Asthma Health app and are now integrating the data into the hospital's Epic EMR platform. In addition, LifeMap Solutions, which worked with Icahn to create the app, has added a "Doctor Dashboard" feature to help providers quickly view the data collected by the app, including activity, asthma conditions and symptom control.

Eric Schadt, PhD, founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology and the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said more than 8,600 people were recruited for the study through the ResearchKit platform, which enables researchers to connect with patients through their iPhones to gather data and push out advice.

"Studying the rich data from thousands of participants, we have found some preliminary but fascinating patterns regarding the (use) of the app and activity level data collected from surveys and HealthKit. Also, our patients' asthma triggers, medication (use) and clinical outcomes are of great interest," Yu-Feng Yvonne Chan, MD, PhD, director of digital health and personalized medicine at the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai, added in a press release. "(M)any of our study participants (told) us that the app was serving as more than a research tool, or an educational tool, but was actually helping them better understand and manage their condition and feel better overall."

Asthma Health was one of five apps unveiled alongside Apple's launch of ResearchKit in March. The enterprise-facing app is a companion to Apple's HealthKit platform, which targets the consumer.

In an interview earlier this year with mHealth News, LifeMap CEO Corey Bridges said ResearchKit eliminates the "brick and mortar" issues plaguing many clinical trials by reaching out beyond the physical constraints of a health system to connect with any potential study participants who have an iPhone.

"This will lead to larger and much more interesting studies," he said.

More recently, Bridges said that in reviewing how asthma patients were using the Asthma Help app at Icahn, he noticed that many were just taking out their iPhones during a visit to the doctor's office and showing their phone to the doctor. That prompted LifeMap to modify the app to enable users to just push a button, thereby launching a dashboard that displays all the pertinent information for the doctor.

Bridges and Icahn officials said the app's integration with the Epic EMR platform will expand the clinical capabilities of Asthma Help and other apps developed through ResearchKit.

"We're thrilled and humbled that our research app is being utilized in this way," he said in the press release. "We look forward to helping other care providers and medical centers around the country do the same, to benefit as many asthma patients as possible. And we're incorporating the learnings from Asthma Health into our future digital health apps."

See also: 

Apple fine-tunes its ResearchKit guidelines

ResearchKit becomes a population health tool

Stanford's ReseachKit study goes globe-trotting