Last month, Apple issued a long awaited announcement of their move into the medical records field, by debuting new functions in the updated Health app for the iOS 11.3 beta, allowing users to view and aggregate their medical records on their iPhones.
The new “Health Records” features 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. Now, consumers will have medical information from various institutions organized into one view covering allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals, and will receive notifications when their data is updated. The Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.
To launch the beta version that features the new “Health Records” section, Apple partnered with 12 major health systems and leading EHR vendors Cerner and Epic, using Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) to facilitate the transfer of medical records. In the coming months, more medical facilities will connect to Health Records offering their patients access to this feature.
The goal is for consumers to have their medical information from various institutions organized into one view covering allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals. It all works when a user opens the iPhone’s health app, navigates to the Health Record section, and, on the new tool, adds a health provider. From there, the user is connected to Apple’s software system to obtain their records and even incorporate new data. Patients will also receive notifications when new information is added to their record.
Regulators and patient advocates have for years pushed for data-sharing standards within the medical sector to make it easier for records to flow between hospitals and doctors’ offices. The lack of interoperability has led to inefficiencies in care and frustrations from both providers and consumers. This move by Apple could effectively pressure EHR vendors to open up access to patients’ digital records and truly force EHR vendors to provide access to their data through open application programming interfaces (API) as mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act.
 The following participating hospitals and clinics are among the first to make this beta feature available to their patients:
- 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