Apple unveils CareKit health tracking platform, first app is for Parkinsons

COO Jeff Williams said the framework will empower patients and care teams to have more formalized discussions with physicians, beginning with programs for Parkinson’s and post-surgical plans.
By Tom Sullivan
02:43 PM

Apple on Monday unwrapped CareKit and described the new software as a framework for building apps that can empower people take a more active role in their own care.

Whereas Apple’s HealthKit is geared for developers building apps that run on the iOS platform and the subsequent ResearchKit was created to enable researchers and scientists, CareKit was built with patients and their families in mind.

“When we introduced ResearchKit, our goal was simply to improve medical research and we thought our work was largely done,” Apple COO Jeff William said during an event on Monday. “But what became clear to us is that the same tools to advance medical research can also be used to help people improve care.”

Williams added that the first CareKit app is for Parkinson’s, a natural condition to target because 24 hours after Apple made ResearchKit available it led to the biggest Parkinson’s study to date.

Particular to the disease, researchers can see symptom levels across a range of days before and after medication starts, meaning physicians can track whether the treatment is actually working for a certain patient or not – if they have access to that data. The first CareKit app, Williams said, surfaces that information for patients and doctors.

At the launch, six institutions agreed to immediately begin using the app: Emory, Johns Hopkins University, Parkinson’s Disease Care New York, Stanford, the University of California at San Francisco and the University of Rochester.

Williams said the app will enable them to have more formalized conversations with patients about treatment.

The second app Williams demonstrated is to help patients adhere to post-surgery recovery plans with features including a care card, a symptom and measurement tracker, and the capability to share the data with caregivers, family members and physicians.

“We think empowering people with data about their health is incredibly important,” Williams said. “CareKit, like ResearchKit, will be open source.”

CareKit will be available in April. 

Twitter: @SullyHIT