Stanford University School of Medicine recently launched a ResearchKit app for the iPhone that helps investigators track the daily activity of patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD). The goal is to monitor the progression of PAD in the hope that it will offer insights that will lead to new treatment options.

The VascTrac application, which makes use of Apple’s ResearchKit platform, is designed to measure several parameters, including the greatest distance that a patient with PAD can walk without stopping. Stanford plans to enroll 2,000-5,000 participants and to monitor activity levels after patients undergo common vascular procedures, including stent and balloon placement, to determine what impact they have on patients. According to the Stanford University description of the investigation: “Knowing exactly when a sudden drop in activity occurs, rather than waiting for the traditional follow-up doctor’s visit, could potentially provide physicians and participants with a much better indication of when further intervention is needed. A sudden drop in activity levels could be a sign of claudication…”

Oliver Aalami, MD, a clinical associate professor of vascular surgery and the lead investigator on the study explains that: “Endovascular procedures such as balloons or stents in the iliac or femoral arteries … allow patients to go home the same day, and they work well, but are not that durable….The issue is that within a year or two, 60% of them fail because patients develop scar tissue. We’re not perfect at predicting who is going to have problems, and catching them early when these stents do go down would be the Holy Grail.”

Patients who participate in the ResearchKit study and download the mobile medical app will be asked to complete a 5 to 10 minute initial survey and then quarterly surveys on their iPhones. They will also be asked to undergo tests that measure how far they can walk. The medical app will measure the total number of steps each patient takes daily, as well as the number of stairs walked and the distance worked.  Make sure to check out the complete list of the ResearchKit medical apps to get an idea of what academic institutions are doing across the country.

The VascTrac ResearchKit app:

Price: Free
iTunes | Android (Unavailable)