Apple ResearchKit and CareKit

Apple recently announced an update on their groundbreaking ResearchKit platform, as well as a new, separate platform called CareKit. These open-source frameworks are part of Apple’s HealthKit campaign which aims to help improve the quality of medicine and treatment for diseases by using iPhones to collect scientific data for medical research.

About ResearchKit

ResearchKit was introduced last year as a way for medical researchers to gather essential data more easily. The framework allows researchers to make apps that spread awareness and aid recruitment of clinical trials to anyone with an iPhone. Increasing the number of people aware of these trials significantly increases the chances of medical researchers getting the info they need to produce better treatments.
The recent update to ResearchKit will include a module that uses genetic data collected from 23andMe. Customers of 23andMe can choose to share their DNA data with the apps that use the module to find out what impact genes have on personal health.

Here are a couple of apps that currently use ResearchKit:

mPower for Parkinson's

mPower (Parkinson’s): mPower, made by the University of Rochester and Sage Bionetworks, has become the largest study on Parkinson’s in the world. It uses features on iPhone to measure dexterity, balance, gait, and memory. It will also be one of the first apps to integrate CareKit.

EpiWatch for SeizuresEpiWatch: Made by Johns Hopkins University, EpiWatch uses the Apple Watch to monitor seizures. It tracks the onset and duration of seizures real-time, providing data which hopefully will eventually help predict seizures before they happen.

MyHeartCounts for Heart DiseaseMyHeart Counts: MyHeart Counts, by Stanford Medicine, studies cardiovascular activity and heart health through your phone. Using the collected data, the study aims to improve methods of preventing and treating heart disease. MyHeart Counts will utilize the new 23andMe module to learn the role genetic data plays in heart disease.


About CareKit

CareKit is the newly released sequel to ResearchKit. It acts as the bridge between research and care, utilizing data collected from your activities to form a better, more personalized health plan.

Four modules form the core of CareKit:

  • Care Card: Users can keep tabs on their individual care plans and action items. This helps track your medication, physical therapy, and more through sensors in the iPhone or Apple Watch.
  • Symptom and Measurement Tracker: This module helps users record symptoms like temperature, level of pain, and fatigue. You can update your progress by completing simple surveys, taking pictures of a wound, or quantifying range of motion using the iPhone’s accelerometer and gyroscope.
  • Insight Dashboard: Matching the symptoms against action items in the Care Card, the Insight Dashboard easily shows you how your treatments are working.
  • Connect: This enables users to easily share information and communicate with their healthcare providers and support groups about their health and give updates on any changes in their condition.

Here are a few apps currently being developed using the CareKit module:

TMC for Surgery AftercarePostsurgical Care App: The Texas Medical Center will use this app to connect you to your healthcare provider after your surgery. The recovery period is the most important factor to determining outcome of surgery, but current post-op therapy goes largely unmonitored. This app will help you monitor pain levels, temperature, range of mobility, and medication. Care teams will be able to see the data and reach out if you need any medical help.

OneDrop for DiabetesOneDrop: This diabetes care app by One Drop helps patients by incorporating the modules of CareKit to track various symptoms such as pain, hunger, and dizziness. You can compare the symptoms to measurements of glucose levels, total insulin, and more. It also connects users to a community where patients can share advice and stories.

Start for DepressionStart: Iodine has integrated CareKit into their app for depression, Start. It tracks your activity, mood, and reactions to antidepressants to find a better way to treat your depression. The new CareKit framework will help users better connect with their doctors to help determine the best course of treatment faster.


To learn more about ResearchKit and CareKit, go to