Apple has released CareKit to help patients self-monitor their conditions and a new module for ResearchKit that will enable the use of genetics in mobile medical research.
CareKit is a new software framework that developers can use to create apps. The CareKit apps will be specifically used to help individuals manage their own medical conditions.
They will enable users monitor their symptoms and medication in addition to sharing their medical information with their families and healthcare professionals.
CareKit will be released as open software that developers can use to create medical monitoring apps. This software already has four main modules that developers can build on:
- Care Card, which helps people track their individual healthcare plans including medication and physical therapy exercises.
- Symptom and Measurement Tracker, which enables users to record symptoms like their temperature, pain, fatigue, etc.
- Insight Dashboard, which compares the data from the Care Card with the data collected through the Symptoms and Measurement Tracker to establish how well current treatment is working.
- Connect, which helps users to share the information from the CareKit apps with their healthcare professionals and family.
These four modules for example, could be used to create a monitoring app for diabetes in which users track their insulin dosage and can report how they are feeling or any differences in their condition.
They could then use the app to contact their GP or nurse who would be able to access the information and the calculations provided by the Insight Tracker to establish a possible course of treatment action.
Developers of health and wellness apps are already planning to build these CareKit modules into apps for Parkinson’s patients, post-surgery progress, home health monitoring, diabetes management, mental health and maternal health, according to Apple.
One of the apps under development is Start, by Iodine, which helps people on antidepressants understand if their medication is working for them or not, and helps their doctors deliver more informed care.
Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said: “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.”
ResearchKit is another software framework from Apple that developers can use to create apps. The apps created through ResearchKit are specifically used to turn the iPhone into a tool for medical research by helping doctors, scientists and other researchers gather data frequently from participants.
The ResearchKit framework has recently been developed so that genetic data and a series of medical tests typically conducted in an exam room can be done through an app, according to Apple.
Designed by 23andMe, the new module allows study participants to contribute their genetic data to medical research. Apple said that researchers are also working with the National Institutes of Mental Health to deliver “spit kits” to study participants based on a series of survey results.
Eric Schadt, founding director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, said: “Collecting this type of information will help researchers determine genomic indicators for specific diseases and conditions.
“Take asthma, for example. ResearchKit is allowing us to study this population more broadly than ever before and through the large amounts of data we’re able to gather from iPhone, we’re understanding how factors like environment, geography and genes influence one’s disease and response to treatment.”
Another area that the new genetics module is aiding research in is cardiovascular disease. Developed by Stanford Medicine, the MyHeart Counts app will use genetic data from existing 23andMe customers to help determine predisposition to heart conditions and measure how a participant’s activity and lifestyle relate to cardiovascular health.
By studying these relationships on a broad scale, researchers hope to be able to better understand how to keep hearts healthy, according to Apple.