Our iPhones and Apple Watches already have the ability to accurately track our walking, sleeping, and heart rate, and now Apple is filling in the other gaps in the health monitoring system. This week, detailed information was released on how to use Apple’s CareKit — the latest tool for taking an active role in your health.
CareKit is a new software framework that will help developers create apps for iOS devices that allow for better monitoring and managing medical conditions. "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," Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer said in a press statement. The software is described as similar to Apple's ResearchKit, released in 2015, a framework for building apps that collect medical data and run large-scale studies using Apple devices.
The latest open-source platform CareKit, due to be released in April, is comprised of four basic modules. These components include the Care Card, which is a framework for tracking individual health plans using the Apple Watch of iPhone. Whether it be physical therapy exercises or taking medications, activities can be recorded using sensors and stored in the Care Card database.
Another useful module is the Symptom and Measurement Tracker, which allows patients to enter symptoms and other health information and track their progress. It provides an easy way to observe pain, fatigue, and other symptoms of a condition's development. The Insight Dashboard charts the development of recorded symptoms against the information provided by the Care Card to trace how well a treatment is working. And finally, the Connect feature allows the user to send the data to health care professionals, family or friends and provide updates if there is a change in their state of health.
Apple suggests that CareKit's applications are limitless, laying down a foundation for specialized apps monitoring anything from sensitive conditions such as seizures and asthma to "Parkinson’s patients, post-surgery progress, home health monitoring, diabetes management, mental health and maternal health." Hospitals and app developers such as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, The Texas Medical Center, Sage Bionetworks and the University of Rochester, and Glow, Inc. already have plans for development once the software is available.
Wired believes that the powerful technology behind Apple’s products make them ideal for accurate health tracking: “There’s no limit to what people with serious medical conditions can track, and no cap on how useful an iOS device might be in coping with the day-to-day realities of illness. Our phones, if they didn’t already, will know more about us than we know about ourselves.” Gone are the days of typing your symptoms into WebMD and hoping for the best — the introduction of CareKit will hopefully shed new light on ways to manage and track our health and wellness.