Apple’s New CareKit Platform Allows Any User To Collect Medical Data

Apple is making it easier to collect your own medical data.

Inspired by the overwhelming success of last year’s ResearchKit — an open source app platform that allows research institutes to recruit and measure participants in medical research studies by iPhone — the tech company is launching CareKit, a platform that allows individual users to now share the research data they’re collecting with healthcare providers and concerned loved ones.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, announced CareKit on Monday and said it was a natural extension of ResearchKit’s mission.

“What became clear to us later is that the very same tools used to advance medical research can also be used to help people with their care,” said Williams.

ResearchKit created a seismic shift in the way that people can contribute to studies by opening up the study participant pool to anyone with an iPhone, as opposed to the traditional method of only recruiting people who live near a given institution. While iPhone users tend to be richer than the general population, it’s also true that the people who have iPhones are more demographically diverse than the predominantly white male participants in most research studies.

CareKit’s very first apps

One CareKit app has already been developed by the University of Rochester Medical Center. Building on the insights learned from mPower, their ResearchKit app to collect data from people with Parkinson’s disease, the new CareKit app will allow users to share the research data with their caregiver.

Dr. Ray Dorsey, a Parkinson’s disease researcher at URMC who helped develop mPower, explained that ResearchKit users have always had access to their own medical data. But CareKit brings users’ own doctors into the mix in the hopes that sharing the research data with them can help the doctors make more informed decisions about their patient’s care.

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