Foraying into the digital health domain, Apple has launched CareKit, an open source tool that lets iPhone app developers build health apps for users to track their medical data and share it with doctors. The mobile feature has been designed by 23andMe using Apple's ResearchKit integrate genetic information.

"We are thrilled with the profound impact ResearchKit has already had on the pace and scale of conducting medical research and have realized that many of the same principles could help with individual care. 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, " said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer.

The digital health tool has four major components:

  • Care Card is intended to help patients track activities like taking medication and doing exercise
  • Symptom and Measurement Tracker for recording symptoms and data like body temperature or blood pressure
  • Insight Dashboard links data from the first two components to see how well a treatment plan is working
  • Connect allows patients to share that health info with others

Prior to this, Google made attempts to tread a similar territory with the "Study Kit" app which is a product of the company's Life Sciences (recently renamed Verily) division. However, the usage was limited to participants of the Study Kit programme and used for medical studies. CareKit, on the other hand, directly serves developers who can use the platform to develop various health apps, and being open-source platform, it may be used for Android devices as well.

Apple has already partnered with a number of medical centres and app developers to begin incorporating CareKit functionality including Sage Bionetworks and the University of Rochester who are using it to monitor the progression of Parkinson's disease in patients. The Texas Medical Center is also using the platform to help surgery patients better manage their recovery.