Mount Sinai Researchers Unveil Results Of First ResearchKit Study Focused On Asthma


Researchers at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine have reported preliminary results from its ResearchKit-powered Asthma Mobile Health study. The study launched six months ago as one of the initial pilot projects associated with Apple’s launch of its new open source ResearchKit platform. Through the ResearchKit platform, Mount Sinai is collecting information from asthma patients as part of a large-scale study on asthma triggers and medication usage. The app that it deployed to engage with asthmatic patients was developed on the open source development site GitHub, and is actively being updated to include new features and data collection points for study participants.

In six months, researchers recruited 8,600 asthma patients without having to engage in any direct recruitment or enrollment efforts. Eric Schadt, PhD and founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multi-scale Biology, reports that, “The breadth, depth, and quality of the data we’ve obtained, in one of the largest real-world epidemiological studies of asthma, has exceeded our expectations.” He goes on to reiterate that smartphone-based studies have the potential to transform medical research. The app captures geo-located asthma symptoms and inhaler usage instances, as well as sleep quality, doctors visits, and changes in medication. The app also integrates with ResearchKit to pull physical activity, height, weight, and peak flow.


Using this early data, researchers found that participants had been using the research app as an asthma management support tool, bringing it to doctors visits and reviewing the historical results together. To respond to this unanticipated use, a new version of the app has been developed with features designed to move the app from simply a data collection tool to a full-fledged disease management app. The first enhancement introduced is a Doctor’s Dashboard screen that consolidates the patient’s information into a single view designed by Mount Sinai doctors to facilitate information-rich discussions between patient and doctor. Researchers explain, “Within seconds, any provider can get a sense of the patient’s recent asthma condition, symptom control, and activity. Any patient can show their Doctor Dashboard to any care provider, anywhere.”

Researchers have also integrated the data collection app with Epic so that the health system’s pulmonologists can review information being collected by the app within their patient’s medical records, creating a more seamless connection between disease management apps and the brick and mortar healthcare delivery system. Other health systems using Epic are now able to recommend Mount Sinai’s asthma management app to patients and integrate the data into their own records.

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