Mar 22 , 2018



CareKit – Opensource Software in Healthcare Series – 5




  • Name: CareKit
  • Category: Health Management Application
  • Programming Language: Swift
  • Major user(s): NYU, University of California, San Diego, University of Cape Town, and many others

Download CareKit


CareKit is an open source software development kit that Apple released in 2016 that allows programmers to build apps leveraging customizable pre-built modules, in an effort to provide patients with the ability to stay informed about the different aspects of their health. It functions much like its counterpart ResearchKit, which allows clinical researchers to manage their data. The initial launch of the kit limits it to use to within the US only, although an international release is planned.

CareKit is available in four modules and is only bound by the creativeness of the developers using it, making it highly customizable. The Care Card module interfaces with biometric sensors that can track data related to an overall care plan, such as prescription usage and exercise. The Symptom and Measurement Tracker allows for the monitoring and recording of any symptoms the patient may experience. The Insight Dashboard allows for mapping of symptoms in conjunction with data from the Care Card to provide an overview of the complete wellness picture. Finally, the Connect module provides a way to provide data to physicians, other medical professionals, or even family members if the patient would like to.

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CareKit offers the huge benefit of allowing patients to better manage their own health data. Since they don’t see the platform itself, but rather interface with the apps, it has been reported as very easy to use. This means that it is an easy way for patients to track medical conditions, medication usage and even general wellness information with greater accuracy. Providing better data leads to a more comprehensive understanding of what actions can be taken to enhance care, ultimately leading to a better standard of care.

CareKit can also provide an avenue for obtaining better first response treatment, especially with apps that focus on single, major conditions. For instance, with epilepsy, there is the ability for the user to send notification of an imminent seizure. And with an app called Start, individuals taking antidepressants use their data to determine whether the medication is working effectively for them.


Like all other open source platforms, there is a great deal of concern with the privacy of medical data. The apps are accessible on Apple mobile devices, meaning that if the device is compromised, the individual’s medical data would also be compromised. This puts the responsibility for data management and security into the patient’s hands, which is a very unique feature for most health platforms.

Another major concern with CareKit is that it is limited to some of the newer Apple devices, restricting its usefulness for all other people, though there is work being done to bring it to the Android platform as well. This is especially concerning when looking for applications that may improve care in low-resource environments. The average owner of Apple products tends to be more affluent and better educated than the general population,[i] even in Western countries, meaning these products are scarce in developing regions.

CareKit is also designed for programmers, which makes it very difficult to customize for the average user.

The Future

CareKit is a relatively new platform, which means that its future is difficult to determine. Although given that Apple is one of the largest tech-companies in the world, it is quite possible that CareKit will become one of the most widely used platforms in health care, although the company must open it up for international use before this could become a possibility.



[i] Hall, G. (2015, March 12). Apple’s health-reporting ResearchKit: Pros and Cons.

CareKit - Opensource software in healthcare series - 5
Article Name
CareKit - Opensource software in healthcare series - 5
CareKit is an open source SDK released by Apple in 2016 that allows programmers to build apps leveraging customizable pre-built modules.
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ZH Healthcare
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