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How Does The Apple ResearchKit Communicate With The HealthKit Database?


In our Apple ResearchKit post, we have showed the framework the kit and how to use it to build YOUR App. Table 1 summarizes the Apple ResearchKit, HealthKit and HealthApp.

In this blog we will be talking about how the Apps that are built, communicates with other apps and how it is stored in the database.

Table 1: Apple ResearchKit, HealthKit and Health App

Apple Health elements Description
Apple ResearchKit The Apple ResearchKit (ARK) is an open source software framework, created specifically for medical research. In this framework, is has 3 modules to build the app (survey, active task and consent), which are the most common modules (or elements) across the various types of medical study, as per Figure 1.
HealthKi The HealthKit is the accompanying developer application programming interface (API) included in the iOS SDK (Software Development Kit) for the Mac. The HealthKit is used by software developers to design Apps that have extensibility and that can interact with the Health application on iOS. The API allows other Apps, with the user’s permission, to access health data
HealthKit allows apps that provide health and fitness services to share their data with the new Health app (this is already available on the iPhone) and with each other (See Figure 1). With HealthKit, developers can make their apps even more useful by allowing them to access your health data.
Health App This is the Health App (which is already installed on the iPhone).
The Health App is intended to be a personal and central data collection point, for connected third-party electronic accessories and wearable technology, that can directly monitor and analyze an individual’s physiology for medical and general fitness purposes.


A user’s health information is stored in a centralized and secure location (The centralized location is actually on the smartphone. That data is not available to other devices-only other apps on the same device i.e. user permissions notwithstanding) and the user decides which data should be shared (or not shared) with your app.


Figure 2: How the Apps built communicates with other Apps and the database

If you have an app that is designed to provide health and fitness services and would like your app to share data with the new Health app, you are able to do so, provided the users (consumers, patients or clinical subjects) gives their consent. Note that it is possible to build eConsent app via the Apple ResearchKit for this.

If you have a wearable technology that would be used for healthcare/clinical study/medical research/fitness that work with health and fitness apps, then the app can be built via the Apple ResearchKit. For existing wearable technologies that already has an App to compliment it, the HealthKit allows these other apps (that provide health/fitness services) to share their data with the new Health app (which is already on the iPhone) and with each other.

You can build your app with the Apple ResearchKit framework (this is open sourced and get be viewed at the open sourced website and the GitHub site). Once you have finalized the outcome of YOUR health App that you want to build or your medical/clinical study, you would identify app developers that can help you build your research app. In which case, FirstApp can provide that for you. You need to work with a trusted and credible team who has extensive experience in developing apps specifically for medical research and healthcare or clinical trials, who can consult you on each technical bit that you would need and what scientific data that can and needs to be captured.