More than a decade after helping launch Netflix, Corey Bridges is on the proverbial cutting edge of technology again. This time, he’s CEO of a mobile-health app developer that has joined with Mount Sinai Medical Center to track data from asthma patients via an app developed using Apple’s open-source ResearchKit™ software framework.

Bridges’ LifeMap Solutions joined with Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine to develop Asthma Help, one of five apps Apple revealed Monday when it announced ResearchKit. The software framework, to be released next month, is designed to enable doctors and researchers to gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants via iPhone apps.

ResearchKit joins HealthKit, a tool of Apple’s iOS operating system released last year to enable health and fitness apps to share their data with each other and with Apple’s Health app, which displays data as a graphic “dashboard.”

Developed for Icahn Mount Sinai’s Asthma Mobile Health Study, Asthma Help can access data from HealthKit to track asthma inhaler use measured by third-party devices and apps, or can take advantage of the accelerometer, microphone, gyroscope, and GPS sensors built into the iPhone to gather other relevant health data. Asthma Help is designed to enable asthma patient education and self-monitoring, promote positive behavioral changes and reinforce adherence to treatment plans that reflect current asthma guidelines.

“It’s a very straightforward basic tool for people to monitor their own asthmatic symptoms, and to track how they’re doing, enabling them to get a clearer sense of how their asthma is working out for them,” Bridges told GEN yesterday. “I see it as a great enabling technology to allow truly rigorous scientific studies to be constructed and implemented through the iPhone.”

Bridges co-founded LifeMap Solutions, a subsidiary of regenerative medicine pioneer BioTime that emerged last year. He wouldn’t discuss how the app might facilitate drug development efforts of BioTime, but did say there are parallels to health app development and some of his earlier work in technology.

For 18 months until January 2013, Bridges was vp of marketing for director James Cameron’s 3D technology development entity CAMERON | PACE Group, overseeing its expansion to China and Europe. Two decades ago, Bridges product-managed Netscape’s pioneer Internet browser, and helped launch Netflix as the fledgling company’s business development manager.

“The broadcasting and filming industries are finally undergoing that predictable flux and rejiggering of opportunity because now, content creators can just send whatever they’re creating to the consumer. Similarly, those same dynamics are at play in medical science, specifically in the research side of increasing medical-scientific knowledge,” Bridges said.

Clinical studies, he noted, have traditionally been location-specific around an institution or a trial site, one key reason why study populations have usually numbered more in the  tens or hundreds, rarely rising to the thousands until recent years. Another is the time-consuming process of securing consent from patients. Through ResearchKit apps like Asthma Help, larger numbers of participants can be recruited from a broader area, and their consent secured, through the iPhone more efficiently, Bridges said.

Apple insists that participants can choose the studies they wish to join and the information they wish to provide, and can see the data they’re sharing.

“Now we can reach all corners of the globe to recruit research volunteers and conduct medical research with sample sizes that are orders of magnitude greater than previously possible for a fraction of the cost,” Eric Schadt, Ph.D., the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor of Genomics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a statement.

“This app is the first of a series of disease-related medical research apps we plan to develop, incorporating electronic consent or ‘e-consent’ to enable us to recruit, consent, and enroll research participants remotely via the app without direct, in-person, contact during any phase of the study,” added Dr. Schadt, who is also founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology.

Apple approached Icahn Mount Sinai last summer among a handful of research institutions it informed about its plans for ResearchKit, giving them and partners early access to develop apps for the platform. Dr. Schadt brought in LifeMap Solutions, which had already been partnering with Icahn Mount Sinai on mobile health or “mhealth” apps.

Other ResearchKit apps:

  • GlucoSuccess—Developed by Massachusetts General Hospital, the app helps users track how diet, physical activity, and medications affect blood glucose levels. Users can also identify how their food choices and activity correlate with their best glucose levels.
  • MyHeart Counts—The Stanford Medicine-developed app measures activity, using risk factor and survey information to help researchers more accurately evaluate how participants’ activities and lifestyles relate to cardiovascular health.
  • Parkinson mPower—Sage Bionetworks and the University of Rochester co-developed the app as part of what they said will be the world’s largest and most comprehensive study of Parkinson’s disease. The app is designed to enable people with the disease to track their symptoms through activities that include a memory game, finger tapping, speaking, and walking.
  • Share the Journey—Developed by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Penn Medicine, Sage Bionetworks and UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, the app will collect and track data related to fatigue, mood and cognitive changes, sleep disturbances, and reduction in exercise. The data is being collected for a study on why some breast cancer survivors recover faster than others, why their symptoms vary over time and what can be done to improve symptoms.