In a major move for mobile healthcare—and in making mobile apps a bigger part of how consumers communicate and share medical data with their doctor—Apple Inc. is adding electronic health records to the iPhone.
This morning Apple announced it was adding a feature called Health Records to its health app that will let consumers access and share electronic health information with their providers. And about a dozen big hospitals are already on board to participate. Those hospitals include John Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine, Geisinger Health System, UC San Diego Health, UNC Healthcare, Rush University Medical Center, Dignity Health, Oschner Health System, MedStar Help, Ohio Health and Cerner Health.
Consumers can have medical information from various institutions organized into one view covering allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals. They also will receive notifications when their data is updated. Health records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Apple says.
The 13 hospitals are ready to grant access to patients as part of what Apple calls its beta stage for the program, Apple says. What means is that iPhone users with the latest version of the Apple health app downloaded on their device should be able to participate with the 13 hospitals “in the next few days,” Apple says.
Each of the participating hospitals will decide when to begin signing up patients to use the Apple app to access their records online. But each hospital with an electronic health records system from Epic Systems, Cerner Corp. or Athena Healthcare should have already integrated their systems with the Apple app.
Each of the 13 hospitals has been an early adopter of Apple’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR, a standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically using application programming interface (APIs) and ResearchKit, an open source framework introduced by Apple that allows researchers and developers to create apps for medical research.
“Our goal is to help consumers live a better day. We’ve worked closely with the health community to create an experience everyone has wanted for years—to view medical records easily and securely right on your iPhone,” says Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams. “By empowering customers to see their overall health, we hope to help consumers better understand their health and help them lead healthier lives.”
Apple says its system is designed to overcome the obstacles consumers have faced when their medical records were held by separate providers, making it difficult to find all their information in one place.
“Putting the patient at the center of their care by enabling them to direct and control their own health records has been a focus for us at Cedars-Sinai for some time,” Cedars-Sinai chief information officer Darren Dworkin said in a quote included in the Apple press release on the new Health Records feature “We are thrilled to see Apple taking the lead in this space by enabling access for consumers to their medical information on their iPhones. Apple is uniquely positioned to help scale adoption because they have both a secure and trusted platform and have adopted the latest industry open standards at a time when the industry is well positioned to respond.”
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