The possibilities for smartphones seem endless, with new apps being developed and released every day. While the devices certainly make our lives easier, they may be able to do so much more - providing researchers real time insight at a fraction of the cost of traditional data gathering methods. Earlier this year, Apple released its ResearchKit platform allowing researchers to conduct clinical studies on a massive scale. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) will award funds to researchers who use the ResearchKit to build apps for addiction research, Fortune reports. Research teams that are able to provide working apps by April 2016 will be awarded $100,000.
Historically, researchers conducting studies had to recruit volunteers at colleges and through advertisements. Such methods limits the reach a particular study can have, because they require people to check in periodically in person. Using apps on smartphones and smart watches will exponentially increase the reach studies can have, allowing many more people to participate. What’s more, such devices can read biometric data from the participants, allowing researchers to augment survey answers, according to the article.
The NIDA challenge “Addiction Research: There’s an App for that” is a clear sign that the National Institute of Health (NIH) sees the potential of mobile health data. The NIH is not alone in their desire to use Apple’s ResearchKit framework, a number of hospitals and medical institutions have expressed interest, including Johns Hopkins and Stanford Medicine.
The federal register notice states:
“NIDA is seeking to engage communities to envision and to create an app which will help advance scientific research in areas of nicotine, opioids, cannabinoids (including marijuana), methamphetamines, and prescription drug use.”
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