The saga of consumer tech companies turning their thoughts to healthcare continues! During Apple’s “Loop You In” event yesterday, in addition to announcing some new products, the company revealed CareKit, an open-source app development program that aims to help developers facilitate people to proactively monitor their health. Apple plans to launch the CareKit platform in April.
CareKit is somewhat of an extension of ResearchKit, which was originally developed for medical researchers. “We’re thrilled with the profound impact ResearchKit has already had on the pace and scale of conducting medical research, and have realized that many of the same principles could help with individual care,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO in a press release. “We believe that giving individuals the tools to understand what is happening with their health is incredibly powerful, and apps designed using CareKit make this a reality by empowering people to take a more active role in their care.”
CareKit aims to develop apps targeting everything from chronic diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes, to post-surgery recovery, to mental, maternal, and home health monitoring. Several insititutions across the country are already beginning to use the platform. The University of Rochester has partnered with Sage Bionetworks to transform the mPower ResearchKit study into something that informs patients about their condition and caregivers their treatment, namely with the effectiveness of Parkinson’s medication. The Texas Medical center plans to help its eight million patients become better connected with health teams and manage recovery from surgery. and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will help patients better manage chronic care using home health monitoring with data stored in HealthKit.
The fact that Apple is providing yet another resource to collect and store health data has to be raising the eyebrows of those concerned with data security. As recent events have shown, Apple considers encryption of its data of paramount importance. Jeff Williams addressed the looming uncertainty by claiming that you control where your health data ends up and who sees it, saying “Nothing is more sensitive than your health data” during the announcement yesterday.
However, the company didn’t provide additional details on security measures to protect health data just yet. Something definitely has to be done to allay users’ fears if CareKit is to be successful—the platform will provide an extremely comprehensive set of personal data. The potential for CareKit to transform care management is enormous, but unfortunately the platform will go nowhere if no one trusts Apple with the data.
If nothing else, CareKit’s release can help Apple make the argument that widescale encryption for iPhones is literally harmful to your health!
(Thumbnail image courtesy of Apple)