Google has launched a new Android app to facilitate wider public participation and engagement in medical researches. The new Google Health Studies app lets Android smartphone users securely contribute to health research studies with leading institutions, right from their phone. Users can take part in health studies by answering in-app survey questions as well as by allowing the app to collect sensor data.
The app will list all open studies for a particular region, with inclusion criteria for each. Users can review the criteria and if they are interested in participating in a study, they can give their consent. Google promises to encrypt and store the information you share securely on the device.
“Study data will only be used for the purposes that are explicitly consented to in the research study and will not be sold, shared with advertisers, or be used to show participants ads,” the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The app will use federated learning and analytics. This means researchers will only get access to aggregated and anonymized data from many devices at once. It will ensure greater privacy for participating users.
Users will also have full control over their personal information, as well as the data they share. They can see what data they are sharing and how it’s contributing to a study. All this information will be accessible both during the course of the study as well as after its conclusion. Users can also access research findings when they become available from within the app.
Google launches a health research and studies app
Apple last year launched a Research app allowing the latest iPhone and Apple Watch users to participate in medical researches. Google has now launched its version of the app for Android smartphone users. The company says the ever-growing COVID-19 pandemic has “highlighted the importance of research in providing information about disease and treatments.”
With the Health Studies app, Google is now hoping to make it easier for researchers to recruit enough volunteers to collect viable user data. Potential participants also now have a platform with greater opportunities to contribute to medical research.
Google has partnered with researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital for the first study through the app. The study focuses on respiratory illnesses such as influenza and COVID-19. It is open to adults in the US only.
Participants can provide researchers with information about how they feel, what symptoms they may be experiencing, and whether they have taken any preventative measures. They can also provide additional information such as COVID-19 or influenza test results.
This will allow researchers to study how respiratory illnesses evolve in communities. They will also be able to trace a link between various risk factors such as age, gender, and race, and activities such as travel.
“Google Health Studies provides people with a secure and easy way to take part in medical research while letting researchers discover novel epidemiological insights into respiratory diseases,” said Dr. John Brownstein, professor at Harvard Medical School and Chief Innovation Officer of Boston Children’s Hospital.
You can download the Google Health Studies app from the Play Store here.