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Science Translational Medicine: App-enabled trial participation: Tectonic shift or tepid rumble?

July 22, 2015

Science Translational Medicine: App-enabled trial participation: Tectonic shift or tepid rumble?

Stephen H. Friend

Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Williams, surprised crowds at the spring launch when he revealed “ResearchKit,” a collection of iPhone apps designed to allow individuals to collect their clinical data—and contribute to the precision medicine movement—outside the confines of hospitals and labs. But are these simply a smattering of souped-up health apps in a sea of thousands (that is, no big deal)? Are they support tools for uncontrolled clinical trials, which won’t produce meaningful results (not to mention superfluous, given that patient-centered outcomes initiatives are well under way)? Or are they precursors heralding a tectonic shift in how people participate in their health management as well as in human disease research and clinical trials? The answer might depend more on human psychology than human health science.

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