Google has launched an app for Android users to participate in health studies by answering survey questions and contributing relevant data. The Google Health Studies app is an attempt to make it easier for research institutions to connect with potential study participants. The first study is in partnership with researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and focuses on respiratory illnesses, including influenza and COVID-19. The app is not available in India yet.
Announcing the launch of the app through a blog post, the search giant said that Google Health Studies will provide a platform for researchers to reach a large and diverse population, so they can understand human health better. Google also said that this initiative will provide the public with ‘greater opportunities to contribute to medical research.’ The app can be downloaded from Google Play, although it isn’t available for Indian users for now.
Adults in the US are eligible for the Respiratory Health Study, Google’s first study in the Android app. It will focus on identifying how respiratory illnesses, including influenza and COVID-19, evolve in communities and differ across risk factors such as age, and activities such as travel. Participants will be required to use the Google Health Studies app to regularly self-report how they feel, what symptoms they may be experiencing, preventative measures -if any- that they have taken, and additional information such as COVID-19 or influenza test results.
This first study uses a privacy technology that can let researchers 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 coronavirus.
Google said that it focused on three principles while building the app: keeping information safe, treating it responsibly, and putting participants in control. The tech giant claimed the participants’ data would be protected with Google’s advanced security, and all the information would be encrypted and research data stored securely. Google said that participants would also be able to access research findings when they become available.
Participants would be able to see what data is being contributed for each study, including when and why it’s shared. Google said that the study data would only be used for the purposes that are explicitly consented to in the research study. It would not be used to show participants ads, shared with advertisers, or sold, as claimed by the company.
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