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Woman doctor with tablet and ResearchKit

Apple made another announcement this week about ResearchKit. This unique offering from the brand is targeted towards health and medical researchers. With the aid of ResearchKit, they will be able to collect data from iPhone apps. The company revealed that ResearchKit is scheduled to hit the market in April.

There are applications already developed using ResearchKit to check and monitor asthma patients and for conducting studies on survivors of breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular health. This app comes into the market after the increasing demand for remote patient monitoring.

Wearable devices will help the healthcare market to grow. This statement was released by Danielle Levitas, a group VP at IDC.

Apple's ResearchKit on Apple Watch

Apple plans to boost hardware related apps in the healthcare industry. Danielle Levitas stated that this would demonstrate the diverse healthcare partnerships and associated services and software.

ABI Research Senior Practice Director Nick Spencer mentioned that Apple now has to concentrate on health and lifestyle matters. This will go help in reaching out to people when it comes to fitness regimes and the importance of wearables for monitoring health.

Data sharing on a universal platform

Apple's ResearchKit icon

ResearchKit has the ability to share data on a global platform. There are special activity modules like gait testing and memory that researchers can contribute to. Using ResearchKit, they can share the data with research communities globally.

The apps for ResearchKit are available to the residents of the USA and they will be rolled out to other nations soon. The apps run on the iPhone 5, 5s, 6, 6 Plus and the recent iPod Touch.

Are there any shortcomings?

ResearchKit as of now will only be available to the iPhone users. These users tend to be more educated and wealthier over the other smartphone users in the market.

Apple's ResearchKit on iPhone

There is also the chance that many iPhone users may not be comfortable using an app to monitor their health or even send details of their health conditions to a third party.

ResearchKit has the ability to collect a large amount of data fast across a wide segment of users in the market, said Rob Enderie, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

However, he further stated that the entire collection process is not valid statistically. The sample that has been selected is not a representation of the population.

iApps security at risk

When it comes to the privacy and security of the ResearchKit apps, Apple says that the data will not be at risk. However, for many iPhone users, the security factor can be a big deal.

Apple's ResearchKit iPhone apps

Individuals are aware that mobile security is very poor in the USA and most countries in the world. The law enforcement authorities also do not have a very good record for surveillance and ensuing that mobile devices are protected. For instance, the CIA has been for many years trying to crack the iOS security code.

On top of this, there has been continued hacks of iOS. It is not sure if this mobile operating system is secure enough. For instance, Apple had to go on to patch 24 vulnerabilities in its iOS 7.1 update. Therefore, the question on how many iPhone users will use ResearchKit is yet to be determined.

Jonathan Zdziarski, a security researcher, disclosed a list of shocking iOS vulnerabilities in July.

One of them was the risks of undocumented services that could bypass backup encryption and be accessed via USB ports and wireless networks. Access to all encrypted data with data protection was possible if one did not reboot the iOS device since the last entry of the user’s PIN. There is a packet sniffer in the services included and one can remotely monitor it over WiFi.

In addition to the above, smartphones are not safe. They can relay personal information to application developers.

ResearchKit can ask for access to the accelerometer, GPS sensors, microphone and gyroscope to monitor health of patients.

Beware of the cyberage dangers

ABI Research stated the healthcare industry is not ready for the advent of cyberage.

Personal health data is priceless. The instances of theft of medical identity, financial data, and fraud are growing. Data breaches at healthcare centers are not a rare thing. Millions of personal data files have been lost.

However, the medical industry hardly spends on cybersecurity, unlike its other critically regulated industry counterparts.

Enderle said, if data is stored on the phone, it is not safe.

According to Ken Westin, Senior Security Researcher at Tripwire, the only way to keep data safe is not to collect it at all. An alternative to protect data is to encrypt it and ensure the keys are secure.

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