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SAN FRANCISCO — Apple on Thursday launched three observational studies — focused on mobility, menstruation, and hearing — that each aim to enroll hundreds of thousands of people and monitor them virtually using their own iPhones and Apple Watches.

Amid rising concern about health data privacy, the tech giant has vowed not to sell the data collected from the studies. Apple will allow participants to control which types of information they share and to delete data within 24 hours of their collection. The company may, however, use the collected study data to refine its algorithms; for example, it could mine for correlations between heart rate data and activity data — how many steps you take, how often you stand, or how often you exercise — to try to improve the notifications it sends Apple Watch users who have an irregular heart rhythm or a high heart rate.

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  • May be the sheer size of enrollment will address this issue, but these studies run the danger of excluding groups that cannot afford an apple watch and an iPhone, usually the poorest/sickest.

    • I was also going to add that the solutions that will be the most effective are ones that rely on low-tech but hi-touch methods. We need more community based health workers that can check in at the right intervals. Don’t need constant monitoring to get effective results.

  • I fully agree with Chris M, and my contemplations to ditch my Android phone for an i-phone will be addressed this Christmas. I too respect Apple’s seeking consent first. My personal health data should not be share-able without my explicit personal consent. The outdated HIPAA definitely needs to be brought into 21st century and foreseeable future dealing with cyber infiltration. Apple has the right approach: consent first.

  • Apple shows to have much, much more respect for patient’s privacy and consent than Google. I do hope that Apple is successful in un-doing the “agreement” between Google and Ascension. Would I be an Ascension patient, they and Google would absolutely receive my grievances. I detest Google’s non-stop attempts to grab everyone’s personal information. It is despicable that for sending 1 photo the cyber company wants full access to all photos, files, media, contacts, etc. This horrific privacy infiltration needs to be legally stopped, with detrimental ramifications for the breach-er. But for Ascension patients the damage has already been done. A lot of firing and significant changes need to happen, asap.

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