Apple launches CareKit to help people manage their medical conditions

Apple announced the launch of its new CareKit software framework, which the company said is "designed to help developers enable people to actively manage their own medical conditions." Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, remarked that the company's open source
ResearchKit platform has already had a "profound impact…on the pace and scale of conducting medical research, and [we] have realised that many of the same principles could help with individual care." He added 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."

According to Apple, iPhone apps using CareKit make it easier for users to monitor symptoms and medication, and to keep track of care plans. Further, the company said CareKit apps enable users to share information with physicians or family members, helping people to take "a more active role in their health."

Specifically, Apple's first four modules for CareKit include the Care Card, which assists people in tracking their care plans, such as taking medication or completing physical therapy exercises, with activities automatically monitored using sensors in the Apple Watch or iPhone. The company said the Symptom and Measurement Tracker allows users to record their symptoms with progress updates such as surveys, photos that capture wound progression or activities that are calculated using the iPhone's accelerometer and gyroscope. Additionally, the Insight Dashboard module maps symptoms against the action items in the Care Card to show how treatments are working, while the Connect module simplifies the sharing of health information with care teams.

Apple further noted that CareKit will be released as an open source framework in April. The company indicated that developers are already looking ahead to building the CareKit modules into apps for Parkinson's disease, post-surgery progress, home-health monitoring, diabetes management, mental health and maternal health. Examples include Sage Bionetworks and the University of Rochester using CareKit to turn the mPower ResearchKit study into a tool to help better inform patients with Parkinson's disease about their condition and healthcare providers about treatment, while data science company Glow will incorporate CareKit modules into its Glow Nurture pregnancy app to guide women through a healthier pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Apple's existing ResearchKit platform has already been used in autism, epilepsy and melanoma trials, as well as studies on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

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