Veterans now able to access VA, provider health data on iPhones

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Millions of veterans nationwide will now have access to their VA medical data—as well as electronic health records from other healthcare providers—via their iPhones, thanks to Apple’s Health Records feature.

The agency announced on Wednesday that veterans who receive care from the VA and community providers will be able to have a single, integrated view of their allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals—all centrally maintained through the Health Records section of the iPhone Health app.

In addition, veterans’ iPhones will automatically receive notifications when their health data is updated by these disparate healthcare organizations.

“We have delivered veterans an innovative new way to easily and securely access their health information,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a written statement. “Veterans deserve access to their health data at any time and in one place, and with Health Records on the Health app, VA has pushed the veterans’ experience forward.”

According to the VA, the new capability falls under the Veterans Health Application Programming Interface (Veterans Health API) initiative, which was first revealed in February and is meant to provide patient access to health records by tapping into innovative applications on mobile devices and web browsers.

The VA’s Health API, which enables veterans to view their medical records, schedule an appointment, find a specialty facility and securely share their information with providers, is the latest effort by the agency to map healthcare data to industry standards.

The data sharing connection between the electronic health record and Apple’s Health app utilizes HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard.

Because the widely available FHIR-enabled Health Records feature is already enabling patients at hundreds of U.S. hospitals and clinics—outside the VA—to access medical information from participating healthcare institutions, veterans who use the app on their iPhones will be able to see their medical data from multiple providers.

In its announcement, the VA emphasized that Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID or Face ID.

“Helping veterans gain a better understanding of their health is our chance to show our gratitude for their service,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer in a blog. “By working with the VA to offer Health Records on iPhone, we hope to help those who served have greater peace of mind that their healthcare is in good hands.”

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