Rosmarie Voegtli/flickr

Rosmarie Voegtli/flickr

The tech giant Apple recently announced a new suite of tools that it hopes will facilitate the development of advanced health software for the iPhone.

Following last year’s incredibly successful ResearchKit — which connected patients with clinical research — Apple has launched an open source platform meant to provide developers with new tools to build medical apps, according to Time.

Called CareKit, Apple‘s platform consists of four central modules: the first helps users track their progress through treatment plans (like medication or physical therapy reminders); the second pools health data that monitors users’ symptoms; the third translates that data into simple metrics; and the final feature lets users share all that information with healthcare professionals. These features are designed to be built upon and integrated into other apps in a way that Apple hopes will change the medical industry entirely.

Empowering Patients

The ultimate goal of CareKit, according to Apple, is to empower patients to become active participants in their own medical care, making it easier to both monitor their health and keep their doctors up-to-date on their progress, as Ars Technica explains.

It could also make it easier for a patient to quickly address an urgent health issue, like heart rhythm failure or stroke, by gauging warning signals and proactively contacting emergency medical services. The EpiWatch app from Johns Hopkins, for example, lets users send a notification to a friend or family member at the onset of a stroke, offering a practical example of the direction this platform might take.

To further demonstrate the possibilities of the kit, Apple partnered with five developers prior to its public launch, a collaboration that resulted in four separate apps. OneDrop is a diabetes management app that assists users by tracking data from glucose meters, recording the number of carbohydrates in meals, and giving insulin shot reminders.

Other apps making use of the platform include Start, a tool for the monitoring of mental health, and a pregnancy app from developer Glow. A Post-Surgery care app and a chronic condition management app are also coming down the pipeline, and Apple released a basic starter app that serves as a template for other health apps.

Endless Possibilities

A woman running


Although these modules may seem relatively limited in terms of their innovative prowess, they nonetheless streamline user-based health monitoring. By bringing together what used to be distinct functions, CareKit offers patients (and anyone, really) a comprehensive look into their mental and physical health.

What’s even more exciting about the platform, though, is its seemingly infinite potential. Already, thousands of healthcare professionals, researchers, and companies have contacted Apple about using CareKit, and the company is thrilled to see where the development community will take it.

The launch also comes at a time when mobile health (mHealth) and telehealth are experiencing rapid growth and powerful transformation, a process that can only be bolstered by the new kit, according to the Center for Connected Health Policy. This has particularly poignant implications in countries where medical infrastructure and accessibility are extremely limited, as remote treatment and consultation offer effective and affordable solutions.

Finding Inspiration

These kinds of practical applications and boundless potential are what make app development such compelling field. With easy-to-use DIY platforms like Infinite Monkeys, the possibilities truly are endless, as anyone can make an app with no coding experience. Costly development and convoluted programming languages are no longer an obstacle, so the next innovative healthcare app is waiting for you to make.