After its announcement at the iPhone SE launchMarch, Apple has today launched CareKit, which aims to make it easier for patients to monitor and manage their conditions.
CareKit is an open source software platform, which helps developers create healthcare apps with tracking and sharing capabilities built right in.
Four initial modules make it easy for apps to allow people to track their care plans, record their symptoms, get insight into how treatments are working and share information with doctors, care teams and family members.
CareKit is the latest in a line of new 'frameworks' from Apple that aim to improve the services around the iPhone and iPad ecosystem to increase the amount of use these devices bring.
It follows on from HealthKit, which allows apps to gather health and fitness data, and ResearchKit, which allows participants to take part in studies using their phone,
As CareKit is open source developers are free to build on and improve it, so the four new modules could be just the beginning.
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Of the new apps, first up are Glow Nurture and Glow Baby, which are used to keep a health log and track the likes of doctor's appointments and feeds during pregnancy and a baby's first year.
With the help of CareKit they also allow you to send details of your progress and any issues to your doctor or anyone else you might want to share the information with. This is sent (securely) via PDF, so there's no need to go in for an appointment or even call them.
Then there's Start, which helps people monitor depression, including pill reminders, symptoms, goals and progress reports. Thanks to CareKit those reports can be sent on to your doctor, but the integration of CareKit also allows the app to inform patients of the effects their medication should be having, so they have a better idea of whether it's working for them.
Finally, there's One Drop, which is a diabetes tracking app that uses CareKit for tracking everything from pain, hunger and dizziness to glucose levels and then allows users to easily share the information with doctors or other caregivers.
Many of these functions could have been built into an app without CareKit, but CareKit provides a framework, which makes it a lot easier to do.
Other app developers are already working on building in CareKit features, including apps for monitoring chronic conditions and those who've recently undergone surgery. With any luck far more apps will start taking advantage of it soon, allowing people with all kinds of conditions to better monitor, track and share them.