Google has launched a new app called Google Health Studies that will make it easier for research institutions to find people who are willing to participate in a study, primarily in the field of human health and medicine. These health studies can involve answering the relevant questions and contributing data towards the study by just using an Android phone. However, Google promises that data privacy and user safety are the top priority behind making the app, which is now available to download from the Play Store.
To achieve that, Google claims to focus on three key areas – keeping information safe, treating it responsibly, and putting participants in control. The company says that all user data is encrypted and stored securely, while participants can see what kind of information, when, and how their data is shared. As for the kind of data, participants will be asked to contribute details such as their current state of well-being, symptoms they are noticing, preventive measures taken by them, and test results.
Google makes it abundantly clear that research data contributed by participants will not be sold, nor will it be shared with advertisers or to show them targeted ads. To put it clearly, all data submitted via the Google Health Studies will only be used for a purpose that participants have given their consent for. The search giant notes that by participating in studies facilitated by the new app, users will lend a hand in fighting global pandemics such as the one wreaked by COVID-19.
The first study that will rely on Google’s new app will be about respiratory illnesses and is being done by the folks over at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. Called the Respiratory Health Study, the research aims to identify the evolution pattern of diseases such as flu and COVID-19 by taking into account factors such as age and activity pattern.
For the Google Health Studies app, the search giant says it is relying on the same tech that powers Gboard predictions, which means researchers can examine mass trends and aggregate insights based on the collected data. However, the company itself cannot actually access the personal data of each individual since all of it is encrypted and stored safely.