Dr. Iltifat Husain’s physician take is at the end of this article

A new partnership between WebMD and the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) seeks to examine what causes a happy and healthy pregnancy to occur with a study titled Healthy Pregnancy Study.

The research will utilize WebMD’s popular Pregnancy app for the iPhone within the structure of Apple ResearchKit,  which will allow participants to consent electronically and be assured that the data they provide is entirely anonymous. The information they will input includes stats on their medications and vaccinations, biometric data like sleep from connected devices, and location of birth to name a few. Even after pregnancy, the study will track participants’ health.

Yale already has a pregnancy ResesarchKit app they launched in 2015. Their EPV pregnancy ResearchKit app allows patients to follow the growth of their baby’s placenta.

The WebMD Pregnancy app already has 1.5 million downloads indicating there is a large group of potential participants.

In a statement, Dr. Eric Topol, director of STSI and editor-in-chief of Medscape stated:. “The results of our Healthy Pregnancy Study — on the foundation of an exceptionally popular smartphone app — will ultimately provide expectant mothers, researchers, and health care professionals with new medical insights to avoid complications during pregnancy.”

The larger and more diverse the better, as data on pregnant women is lacking, and this new collaboration might bridge the gap.

Dr. Iltifat Husain’s take:

This is a fantastic collaboration between WebMD and Scripps. Leveraging WebMD’s huge presence in the pregnancy digital space to collect data that can be utilized for a research study is a great move, and should yield rich patient data sets. Obviously — we’ll see in 1 to 2 years what will come about with the data sets and if any studies will materialize, but it’s definitely promising.

In general — a great model for academic institutions to consider as well. Partner with a company that already has a digital footprint, and leverage their footprint for patient data sets to help improve health outcomes.

Again — there is no need to download an additional app, the ResearchKit framework has been implemented within the current WebMD Pregnancy app via an update, and current users of the app have the option to opt into the update.

Available on iOS (iTunes)