Apple have introduced a significant update to the ‘Health App’, although still in its’ ‘test phase’ users will be able to view their medical records. This will only be available to patients at certain health institutions in the U.S but initial feedback has been promising and other institutions appear interested.
The app is based on the interoperability standard FHIR and collects encrypted medical data on allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals. If anything changes users will receive notifications and can view results immediately.
This move by Apple is likely in response to the increasing demands by consumers to have easy and immediate access to their medical information and the feeling that the infrastructure can not match this demand. The idea of giving patients access to an electronic health record (EHR) isn’t a new one and different platforms have been trialed in the past. But one of the biggest barriers to its’ success have been financial investment and the cost/benefit of having a system like this in place has been unclear. For Apple, though, clearly this will drive users to their ‘ecosystem’ and money is not an issue for one of the biggest tech companies in the world.
Somethings still are unclear around the app, one being liability issues. There could be unforeseen technical issues which could compromise the integrity of the data and could lead to privacy issues or malpractice claims. There could also be growing tensions between having access to flexible data but then not having a flexible system to deal with ‘expert patients’ or patients incorrectly analysing their own results/tests.
Still there are likely to be benefits to patients, and that’s why we’re in this profession right?
The new feature is available to patients of the following institution:
- Johns Hopkins Medicine – Baltimore, Maryland
- Cedars-Sinai – Los Angeles, California
- Penn Medicine – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Geisinger Health System – Danville, Pennsylvania
- UC San Diego Health – San Diego, California
- UNC Health Care – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Rush University Medical Center – Chicago, Illinois
- Dignity Health – Arizona, California and Nevada
- Ochsner Health System – Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
- MedStar Health – Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia
- OhioHealth – Columbus, Ohio
- Cerner Healthe Clinic – Kansas City, Missouri