Apple advances health apps with CareKit


New software framework helps developers empower people to take a more active role in their health

Apple announced CareKit earlier this week, a new software framework designed to help developers enable people to actively manage their own medical conditions.

iPhone apps using CareKit make it easier for individuals to keep track of care plans and monitor symptoms and medication by providing insights that help people better understand their own health. It also includes the ability to share information with doctors, nurses or family members.

“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 chief operating officer. “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 will be released as an opensource framework next month allowing the developer community to continue building on the first four modules designed by Apple, that include:

Care Card helps people track their individual care plans and action items, such as taking medication or completing physical therapy exercises; Symptom and Measurement Tracker lets users easily record their symptoms and how they’re feeling, like monitoring temperature for possible infections or measuring pain or fatigue; Insight Dashboard maps symptoms against the action items in the Care Card to easily show how treatments are working; and

Connect makes it easy for people to share information and communicate with doctors, care teams or family members about their health and any change in condition.

Commented  Ray Dorsey, MD, David M. Levy Professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, US: “With ResearchKit, we quickly realised the power of mobile apps for running inexpensive, high quality clinical studies with unprecedented reach. 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.”

Developers of health and wellness apps can build these CareKit modules into apps for Parkinson’s patients, post-surgery progress, home health monitoring, diabetes management, mental health and maternal health.

Sage Bionetworks and the University of Rochester are using CareKit to turn the mPower ResearchKit study into a valuable tool to help better inform patients about their condition and care providers about treatment, while the Texas Medical Center is designing apps to guide and support care pathways for its eight million patients to improve their health through enhanced connectivity with their care teams. Meanwhile, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will provide patients with more insight into their own chronic care management through home health monitoring devices that securely store data in HealthKit.


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