Image source: Apple

Apple debuts Research app, three health studies open initially

Apple has made its Research app available to those living in the US. At the outset, the software allows users to enroll in three large medical studies.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

The app was originally unveiled at Apple’s 10th of September event. It sees the Cupertino outfit partnering with leading academic and research institutions on studies that will hopefully lead to major medical breakthroughs.

The new software comes on the heels of the ResearchKit and CareKit. The second of these was used for the Apple Heart Study in 2018. This project was created to assess the effectiveness of the Apple Watch in spotting signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

“With the Apple Heart Study, we found that we could positively impact medical research in ways that help patients today and that make contributions that will benefit future generations,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer said at the 10th September launch.

“Today’s announcement carries our commitment to health even further by engaging with participants on a larger scale than ever before.”

Alongside the app, three medical studies were unveiled. The first is on how menstrual cycles can inform the screenings for infertility, osteoporosis and pregnancy, the second is on how activity and heart data impacts overall health. The final study uses sound exposure data to assess its impact on hearing. All of these studies will tap into the wealth of health and fitness data generated by the Apple Watch.

The three studies

  • Apple Women’s Health Study: In partnership with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the study will inform screening and risk assessment of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, osteoporosis, pregnancy and menopausal transition.
  • Apple Heart and Movement Study: Apple is partnering with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association on a comprehensive study of how heart rate and mobility signals — like walking pace and flights of stairs climbed — relate to hospitalisations, falls, heart health and quality of life in order to promote healthy movement and improved cardiovascular health.
  • Apple Hearing Study: Alongside the University of Michigan, Apple is examining factors that impact hearing health. The Apple Hearing Health Study is the first of its kind to collect data over time in order to understand how everyday sound exposure can impact hearing.

Those worried about privacy should take comfort in the fact that Apple takes data security concerns very seriously. Users will have complete control over what information they share if they choose to enroll. Any information that is collected and assessed will not be linked to information that directly identifies participants. Finally all of this information will be stored and communicated in encrypted form will be protected by a passcode on your smartphone.

A few days ago, Apple and Stanford Medicine published the detail findings from their Heart Study. The results show that 0.5% or some 2,000 of the 419,297 participants received irregular heart rhythm notifications. The project was launched about a year ago in conjunction with the release of Apple’s fourth generation smartwatch and watchOS 4. The research was created in part to assess the effectiveness of Apple Watch in spotting signs of atrial fibrillation (AFib).

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