As always, I love watching Apple’s announcements and all the cool features Apple never fails to produce. Today, I was also excited to hear about Apple’s launch of ResearchKit, software that will allow consumers to better manage their health and allow medical researchers access to what Apple hopes will become big data on patients from all over the world. Living in Boston, surrounded by biotech and pharma companies, I often hear about the difficulty in recruiting a sufficient number of diverse trial patients to test drug efficacy. ResearchKit has the potential to speed up research and spur greater innovation.
More broadly, I am also pleased at how Apple is handling the issue of privacy – they famously stated yesterday, “Apple will not see your data.” Even better, users will decide with whom to share their data. Of course, privacy advocates will point out that this policy just transfers the risk of data misuse from Apple to the healthcare & research institutions receiving the data. In fact, these institutions are like any other data-collecting organization: they need an efficient way to show how data is being shared and accessed relative to their policies. The good news is we now have the technology to centralize policies and monitor data usage against these policies in real-time. We no longer have to balance competing needs – innovation and privacy. We can have our cake, and eat it too. (Your Apple watch may still count those calories: it’s not all guilt-free)