Apple enters consumer e-health market

Apple carekitApple has announced the launch of CareKit, an open-source software framework which enables its consumers and doctors to proactively keep track of their health through monitoring symptoms and medications in real-time.

The open-source framework follows the launch of ResearchKit last year and enables consumers to us data collected from various sources to understand their health. The app also enables consumers to record feedback on how well they are feeling or recovering from a procedure which can be shared with family members and their doctor remotely.

“We’re thrilled with the profound impact ResearchKit has already had on the pace and scale of conducting medical research, and have realised that many of the same principles could help with individual care,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO. “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.”

From next month, the developer community will be able to build their own apps through the open-source software, however Apple have designed four modules in the first instance. Care Card is a to-do list reminding consumers to take medication or perform certain exercises, which can be tracked through various Apple devices. The Symptoms and Measurement Tracker enables consumers to record their symptoms and progress. The Insight Dashboard compares the symptoms to the data taken from the Care Card to ensure that treatment is effective, and the Connect module shares all information with the person’s doctor.

The concept of CareKit is one of the few data analytics use cases available to the consumer market, though the open-source framework will offer opportunities for developers. While the framework is not available for the wider community currently, Apple has been working with a number of developers to demonstrate the use case of the framework. One example, Glow Nature, is an app incorporating the CareKit modules to offer advice to women to guide them through a healthier pregnancy.

The launch of CareKit follows healthy adoption of ResearchKit, a similar open-source framework designed for medical researchers. ResearchKit enables doctors, scientists and other researchers to gather data from participants anywhere in the world using iPhone apps. While ResearchKit enables researchers to more accurately gather data and further their research, CareKit provides these organizations an alternative means to communicate with the mass audience.

“With ResearchKit, we quickly realised the power of mobile apps for running inexpensive, high-quality clinical studies with unprecedented reach,” said Ray Dorsey, Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Centre. “We hope that CareKit will help us close the gap between our research findings and how we care for our Parkinson’s patients day-to-day. It’s opening up a whole new opportunity for the democratisation of research and medicine.”