Apple has attracted a lot of attention since releasing its ResearchKit in March 2015, which is an open source framework that lets developers create medical apps specifically designed to recruit patients and help them participate in clinical research studies (We have a list of all the ResearchKit medical apps currently available). On the other hand, CareKit, to be released in April, is intended to help “enable people to actively manage their own medical conditions, iPhone apps using CareKit make it easier for individuals to keep track of care plans and monitor symptoms and medication; providing insights that help people better understand their own health. With the ability to share information with doctors, nurses or family members, CareKit apps help people take a more active role in their health.”

Observers may be confused by the apparent overlap between ResearchKit and CareKit since both can help clinicians and patients monitor their care by remotely collecting data on a variety of physiological parameters. In the case of medical apps that sync up with ResearchKit, however, that patient monitoring is done in the context of a research study. CareKit does not have that limitation — CareKit can be utilized to reach out to specific patient populations to help them manage their health.

By way of example, the Duke University Autism & Beyond ResearchKit app uses video technology to analyze and screen a child’s emotions and behavior using an iPhone’s camera to detect emotional reactions, which are then plugged into algorithms that investigators analyze. Similarly the Parkinson Disease app that is used in the mPower Parkinson Disease Research Study, which has been spearheaded by Sage Bionetworks, uses a voice recorder on the phone and tests hand dexterity.

But beginning in April, Sage Bionetworks plans to use CareKit to “turn the mPower ResearchKit study into a valuable tool to help better inform patients about their condition and care providers about treatment.” Similarly Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston will use the new platform to provide patients with more insight into their own chronic care management through home health monitoring devices that securely store data in HealthKit. Other Carekit-related projects will focus on post-surgery progress, home health monitoring, diabetes management, mental health and maternal health.

Apple CareKit