Apple Health App

Apple health app has announce that it will allow any US healthcare organization with a compatible electronic health record (EHR) to register with its mobile Health Records feature, according to a tweet from Ricky Bloomfield, MD, Apple’s clinical and health informatics lead. This will allow patients to securely and privately download their EHR data to a personal health record (PHR) on their iPhone after presenting their credentials to a practice’s or a hospital’s patient portal.

The compatible EHRs that can download the records are those capable of plugging in apps base on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), a standards framework for exchanging clinical data over the Internet. The EHRs that Apple currently supports include Epic, Cerner, athenahealth, and CPSI, according to Apple.

The apple health app

However, FHIR is improving, and the ubiquity of iPhones should also push the use of these PHRs forward, Waldren said. With the use of standardize APIs in EHRs and a consumer-facing product with a standard interface, he said, “hopefully we’ll see an increase adoption of these things that empower patients to have access to their data. And perhaps they can make the [downloaded] information available to their primary care physician if they’re being seen by a specialist in another health system.”

Waldren pointed out that accessing the EHR information is only the first step. Patients also have to be able to use the information, and he predict there will be more apps that can help them interpret it and use it to improve their health. Apple has already create a Health Records API for outside developers. When consumers choose to share their health record data with a trusted app, the data flows to that app through Apple HealthKit but is not stored on Apple’s servers.

Customers of participating EHR companies must receive an access code from their vendor for authentication purposes, Apple said. There is no charge to the provider or the patient for using the app. When a patient opens their health app’s Health Records tab, they can either search for their health organization; so by name or location or scroll through the ones closest to their vicinity, the Apple representative said. As they scroll and search; they’ll find a listing of participating provider organizations.

Health Records app

Apple is continuing to enhance the Health Records feature. Bloomfield said in his tweet that the ability to obtain graphical trends of particular lab results; which is being test and will be available in the next Apple release. Meanwhile, the US Veterans Affairs (VA) system has start allowing veterans; so to download their health records to the Apple PHR. Veterans can now see their health information from both VA facilities; also private providers organize into a single view on the Health Records app.

Other major tech companies have offer personal health records to consumers in the past. Neither Microsoft HealthVault nor Google Health, however, gain much traction with consumers. In addition, patient use of EHR link portals has been underwhelming to date. So the question is, will patients flock to the Apple Health app to download their records?

Waldren note that the portals weren’t really design with patients in mind. Meaningful use require providers to offer these portals so patients could access their records. But hospitals and practices tend to use the portals for their own ends; such as sending out notices and meeting regulatory requirements.

Now that EHR information is accessible through the Apple health app, he said, people will start building apps that offer consumers what they want. If that happens, he suggests, more patients may download their records. Waldren has one suggestion for app developers; however: think about clinical workflow and don’t overwhelm doctors with irrelevant information. Otherwise, patients are likely to come into the office with 50 things their app said they should ask about.