ResearchKit is taking aim at hepatitis C

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ResearchKit is just as revolutionary as researchers hoped.
ResearchKit is just as revolutionary as researchers hoped.
Photo: Apple

ResearchKit is already helping medical researchers make groundbreaking discoveries in areas like Parkinsons disease, autism, and cardiovascular disease. Now the open source software is being put to use to study hepatitis C, a virus we know little about, even though over 3 million Americas suffer from it.

Despite the widespread impact of Hep C, research still don’t understand how the virus and its medications impact people’s daily lives. Boston Children’s Hospital has created a new ResearcherKit app called C Tracker that allows patients with hepatitis C to keep track of the virus by answering basic questions, find facts, and track activity levels.

“By and large, the data we have now about hepatitis C treatments come from traditional clinical trials,” explained Dr. Ken Mandl during the app’s release this fall.” With C Tracker, we can listen to the patient voice to learn how people live with hepatitis in the real world. C Tracker will evaluate the impact of hepatitis C on people’s lives in ways we never could before.”

In a ResearchKit blog post detailing the app, Mandl explains that C Tracker’s biggest innovation is a new backend called C3-PRO that is being made available to the research community to be use with other ResearchKit apps.

C3-PRO (short for Consent, Contact, and Community framework for Patient Reported Outcomes) connects any ResearchKit app to an IT infrastructure called i2b2 that is widely used by clinical researchers. C Tracker currently recruits subject by maintaining complete anonymity. In a future version, the hospital plans to ‘prescribe’ the app and others to study participants so their study data can be connected to i2b2 to glean new insights.