Apple update to enable users to see health records on their iPhones

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Apple plans to release a software update for the iPhone in the next few weeks that will let users view their health records.

The addition to the iPhone’s Health app would amplify the health records feature and enable users to pull up their medical history, such as past procedures and lab results.

Apple has partnered with 12 healthcare organizations on the feature, including Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai and Penn Medicine, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

“The updated Health Records section within the Health app brings together hospitals, clinics and the existing Health app to make it easy for consumers to see their available medical data from multiple providers whenever they choose,” the announcement noted. The 12 participating hospitals “are among the first to make this beta feature available to their patients.”

The approach will use standards-based technology to bring records information to the phone, Apple indicated.

Patients’ medical records typically are held in multiple locations, requiring patients to log into each care provider’s portal and piece together the information themselves. Apple says it worked with the healthcare community to take a consumer-friendly approach, creating Health Records based on FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), a standard for enabling the exchange of information in electronic medical records.

Health records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.

“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,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO. “By empowering customers to see their overall health, we hope to help consumers better understand their health and help them lead healthier lives.”

“Streamlining information sharing between patients and their caregivers can go a long way towards making the patient experience a positive one,” said Stephanie Reel, chief information officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “This is why we are excited about working with Apple to make accessing secure medical records from an iPhone as simple for a patient as checking email.”

“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,” said Darren Dworkin, chief information officer. 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.

“I’m encouraged by this collaboration between Apple, EHR developers and care providers,” says Zane Burke, president of Cerner. “This is a huge step towards empowering the consumer to take a more active role in their own health and care.”

Other participating healthcare organizations include:

• Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pa.

• UC San Diego Health, San Diego

• UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, N.C.

• Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

• Dignity Health, Arizona, California and Nevada

• Ochsner Health System, Jefferson Parish, La.

• MedStar Health, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia

• OhioHealth, Columbus

• Cerner Healthe Clinic, Kansas City, Mo.

Apple has been taking other steps to beef up its capabilities in supporting consumer health through development of its platform. In December, the company announced it is developing an advanced heart-monitoring feature for future versions of its smartwatch, part of a broader push by the company to turn what was once a luxury fashion accessory into a serious medical device, according to people familiar with the plan. And in 2016, Apple purchased Gliimpse, a healthcare startup that has developed a personal health record platform that enables individuals to collect their medical information and share records with medical professionals who are treating them.

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