Health Tracking Apps

Today, Apple had a talk in which they released information regarding their new iPhone and iPad. Along with this, the CEO mentioned new software in the iPhone called CareKit that will help apps like mPower to track and monitor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease or things like diabetes, mental health, etc. mPower in particular was talked about because it is celebrating it’s one year anniversary. It’s an app for people with Parkinson’s Disease, which can monitor users 24/7 if they like through voice recording, games, walking, etc. and then sends that information to Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit research organization. This new software makes it easier for more health apps to be created and furthers the abilities of tracking options/capabilities.

Their purpose, and the purpose of this new software according to Apple, is to be able to do “clinical studies with unprecedented reach”. The concept of having something monitoring you at all times and sending data to scientists is one that puts the medical model in your home and literally in your pocket. These groups have a focus of treatment and cure, which can be useful but also problematic. I am particularly interested in mPower because I personally have a tremor disorder similar to PD and there are constant pushes to find some kind of neurological answer behind why tremor disorders occur (since no one truly knows). In some ways, apps like this can be helpful because it allows for people to easily track their own symptoms and potentially learn how to manage their illness, but their information is being sent to who knows how many people who want to oversee and regulate bodies. Technology like this brings the medical model into the private sphere (your cell phone) and there’s no way of knowing what the information your phone is sending might generate.