Why ResearchStack will be a boon for mHealth innovation

From the moment Apple debuted its ResearchKit platform in March, 2015, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries have been abuzz and for very good reasons. The open source platform allows iPhone users to participate in medical trials and studies, and gives medical research teams the capability to cull data through Apple's HealthKit platform. In prepping its ResearchKit Apple called on dozens to leading medical facilities and hospitals, and debuted five free apps for specific ailments to ignite research.

The response was instantaneous and overwhelming, as thousands immediately began signing up to participate in disease investigation. What's more, big-name providers jumped on the bandwagon: For instance, Johns Hopkins University tapped ResearchKit to build a better way of predicting epileptic seizures. Additionally, Duke University--teaming with China-based Pekin University--and Oregon Health & Sciences University announced collaborative efforts to use ResearchKit to study autism and melanoma, respectively.

What's happening in digital health research thanks to ResearchKit is astounding. To that end, the forthcoming addition of an Android counterpart via ResearchStack is an exciting development.

An initial announcement was made last November. Since then, a Beta Preview early access program has been launched, and on April 15, Research Stack 1.0 will be publicly available for use and contributions, according to the effort's official Website.

Like ResearchKit, ResearchStack will be open source, an aspect medical and industry experts cite as extremely critical for creating data standards, streamlining integration of data flows and eradicating ambiguity in regard to mHealth devices and apps, according to a recent mHealth Intelligence article.

In addition, an argument could be made that ResearchStack has greater potential in terms of overall reach than ResearchKit for one simple reason: the majority of today's smartphone users are on Android devices. As an IDC report from last August notes, Android is dominating the smartphone market, with Samsung leading the vendor community.

In the end, both platforms will drive forward and provide a foundation for innovation of digital health, overall, which will be a win for researchers, providers, patients and payers. - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)