Penn Medicine‘s app for sarcoidosis patients, Apple’s ResearchKit, is now available on android. Patients with android phones, Google Pixel and Samsung, for example, now can download the app from the Google Play store.
The announcement was shared on the website of the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR), which was involved in the development of the app. According to FSR’s press release, users have been very interested in knowing when the app would be available on android systems.
As part of Penn Medicine’s goals, the team always wished to make the app available to everyone, so people could have equal access to sarcoidosis resources.
Penn Medicine launched the Apple’s ResearchKit app for sarcoidosis patients early in 2017. According to Misha Rosenbach, MD, co-developer of the app and member of the FSR’s Scientific Advisory Board, the aim was to design a personalized tool to provide patients informational resources about sarcoidosis, including local specialists, support groups and advocacy groups.
The app also helps researchers collect more detailed insights on the daily lives of sarcoidosis patients, based on patients’ reports and online monthly surveys.
Using this app, scientists hope to make this the largest study on sarcoidosis ever, said Daniel O’Connor, co-developer of the app. The development of the app for android potentially will reach and follow-up more patients than any clinical trial before.
The app already has more than 1,220 downloads from users, half of whom have given informed consent and are taking regular surveys.
O’Connor and Rosenbach expect the study to become the largest of its kind within a year, if the project continues to grow as this pace. Such a scenario would give researchers a reason to continue expanding the app and make it accessible to more people, perhaps worldwide. (Currently the app is being used only in the U.S. and available only in English.
However, there are some doubts about the future success of the app. According to the release, Satish Misra, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a co-founder and editor of iMedicalApps, has some concerns about the app’s ability to recruit patients, due to the rarity and lack of information about sarcoidosis. Still, he remains optimistic because “things are different with a rare disease, where the sense of community among patients may be stronger.”
Penn Medicine hopes that making the app available on android systems will expand the scientific community’s knowledge about the affects of sarcoidosis on more patients.