The onslaught of this pandemic has helped remind people on the importance of medical research not just in discovering vaccines and cures but in providing information to the general public about diseases and treatments. To help researchers get a wider pool of volunteers that is more representative of the general population, Google is launching a new Health Studies app. This should be able to help research institutions find more potential study participants while also keeping the participants’ data “private, safe, and secure”.
Basically, with this new app, anyone with an Android smartphone can participate in medical studies through surveys and also contributing relevant personal data. But of course, it is also important to make sure that the data you provide is protected by Google’s advanced security. All the information that is contributed through this app is encrypted and all the research data that is stored within the app is stored securely.
Participants are given control over the data that they are contributing. You’ll be able to see which of the information you give is being contributed to the study as well as when it is shared. You’ll even get information as to why it’s being used. Google also assures those that will use the app that all the data will only be used in the research study and will not be sold or shared with advertisers.
For the first study, Google has partnered with Harvard Medical School and the Boston Children’s Hospital. The focus will be on understanding respiratory illnesses. This includes identifying how things like influenza and COVID-19 spread in communities. The Respiratory Health Study will be available to adults in the U.S. and those who will participate will self-report how they feel, what symptoms they may be feeling, what preventative measures they’re taking, etc.
You can get the Google Health Studies app for free from the Google Play Store. This is just the first study they will be doing so if you’re qualified, go ahead and start contributing to this. Results or findings of any study will of course be available to participants once released.