Google Health Studies App for Android Will Let Users Participate in Research Studies

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New Delhi: You no longer need to buy an iPhone if you want an easy way to contribute to medical research. Google has released a Health Studies app for Android that lets you participate in research projects. Volunteer for a study and data you send from your phone can provide insight into conditions and diseases.

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.

And yes, privacy plays an important role. Google said Health Studies gives you control over the research data you send and transparency over both what’s sent and where it’s going. The respiratory study relies on federated learning and analytics that provide aggregated data based on encrypted updates from participants. Health Studies data will only be used for research purposes, Google said, and won’t be sold or used for ads.

Google is slightly late with its Health Studies app — Apple released a Research app in November 2019 after cooperating on previous projects. Not that there are many complaints. Android is the world’s largest mobile platform, and enlisting even a small fraction of those users for studies could accelerate medical progress. This could be particularly helpful in Europe and other places where Google’s platform dominates.

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