Google releases new Health Studies app, first study to focus on respiratory illnesses
Google has announced the launch of a new research app for Android phones, which the company says will make it easier for research institutions to connect with potential study participants. The first study will focus on respiratory illnesses, including influenza and COVID-19.
Before we go any further, Google makes it clear that the data of participants will be protected.
“In building the app we focused on three principles: keeping information safe, treating it responsibly, and putting participants in control,” Google said in a blog post. “When participants use the Google Health Studies app, their data is protected with Google’s advanced security. All information is encrypted and research data is stored securely.”
Google said participants will have control over their personal information. When data is shared, participants will know when and why. None of the information that’s collected will be sold, shared with advertisers, or be used to show participants ads. Once research findings become available, participants will be able to access the results.
Google partnered with researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital for the first study, which will be open to adults in the U.S. “The study will focus on identifying how these types of illnesses evolve in communities and differ across risk factors such as age, and activities such as travel,” Google said.
Participants will use the Google Health Studies app to report how they feel, what symptoms they may be experiencing, and more.
“With COVID-19 emerging alongside season respiratory pathogens, research is now needed more than ever to develop more effective treatments and mitigation strategies,” said Dr. John Brownstein, professor at Harvard Medical School.
The study will utilize something known as federated learning and analytics, which will aggregate insights from multiple devices, rather than analyzing every individual who participates. “This means researchers in this study can examine trends to understand the link between mobility (such as the number of daily trips a person makes outside the home) and the spread of COVID-19,” Google said.
If you want to take part in the first study, you can download the Google Health Studies app below.