Can Apple Shake Up the Electronic Health Record Landscape?

Ryan Black
JANUARY 24, 2018
EHR apple, interoperability, mhealth, iphone ehr health, apple health records, iphone EHR app

The Health app in Apple iOS 11.3’s beta version contains a noteworthy addition: the ability for patients to view their electronic health records (EHR).

The company made the announcement today in a new statement. Nearly a dozen leading health institutions—including Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles—will participate in the beta program. The framework is built on Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards and the information will be encrypted.

Patients of the health systems will be able to see their EHRs in a under a Health Records tab of the Health app, organized by subsections for medications, lab results, immunizations, conditions, clinical vitals, procedures, and allergies. Users will receive notifications when information is updated.

“Streamlining information sharing between patients and their caregivers can go a long way towards making the patient experience a positive one,” Stephanie Reel, Chief Information Officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, said in Apple’s statement.

“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,” Darren Dworkin, Chief Information Officer at Cedars-Sinai, added.

Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said that the company’s goal was to “help consumers live a better day,” and that it hopes to “help consumers better understand their health and help them lead healthier lives.”

The company’s official statement says the development is in response to the ongoing difficulty patients face when trying to acquire and view all their health information, which is typically siloed between various institutions and systems. Access to their EHRs in the updated health app will be as safe—or, only as safe—as the user’s iPhone passcode

In recent years, the ubiquitous laptop-, smartphone-, and now smartwatch-maker has ramped up its efforts to enter the medical space. When it updated Apple Watch’s iOS in September, it added the ability to notify wearers when it detected an irregular heartbeat. Later that month it was reported that the company was working with the FDA on a pilot program for new digital health device approvals.

The full list of participating health systems is as follows:
  • 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
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