Apple has taken a big step with two healthcare developmental platforms. The first platform, ResearchKit, has been used by doctors and researchers to create smartphone apps to gather data to better understand health and disease processes. Now they’re launching Apple CareKit, a development kit used to create apps that can help people understand and manage their health. Several free applications are already in the works for download.
The ResearchKit has been used to create apps for Parkinson’s Disease, for early diagnosis of autism, and predicting epileptic seizures. Other apps are already at work gathering data for concussions, depression, postpartum care, asthma, COPD, diabetes, hepatitis C, melanoma, and sleep health. You can volunteer to help by contributing data to any of these studies.
The CareKit has fewer apps available now, but according to Apple, “Rather than relying solely on doctor visits, you’ll be able to regularly track your symptoms and medications, and even share the information with your care team for a bigger — and better — picture of your health.” Apps in the works are for post-surgical care, managing chronic conditions, and managing diabetes. One note about privacy with these apps is that Apple gives you control of which studies you’ll join and the information you share. On the other hand, Apple leaves it up to developers of ResearchKit and CareKit apps to provide compliance with HIPAA and other other regulations, and does not provide this security automatically as part of these systems.
With large companies such as Apple joining the Health Tech world in a big way, we can be sure that developments will come even faster. The recent decision by Nokia to purchase Health Tech stalwart Withings is a sign and we can bet that Samsung’s and Google’s Health Tech division are already casting their nets wide and looking at platform-wide suites of applications, with and without proprietary devices.