In January 2018, Apple announced an upcoming feature that brought health records to the hands of any iPhone user and participating hospital. Through its Health Records API (applications programming interface), developers are able to build apps that connect a patient with their medical records. Apple began this project with 12 hospitals at which they tested the technology and research. Now, five months later, approximately 80 providers are signing on to participate.
Apple’s Health Records API
At Apple, the Health Records API gives health IT app developers and researchers the ability to construct apps that utilize, leverage, and report a patient’s health record data. Based on each user’s unique medical history, app developers can individualize the patient experience and deliver improvements in health areas like:
- Chronic Disease Management: For example, diabetics can use a specific app to track lab results, blood sugar levels, and monitor health activity, thus illustrating a complete picture of the user and providing encouraging lifestyle changes to promote better health.
- Medication Monitoring: Rather than manually entering or memorizing prescription information, MediSafe – an app offered in Health Records API to manage medications – can enable pill reminders and provide access to prescription information. An added safeguard within Medisafe notifies a user when problematic drug interactions exist, since the Apple Health Kit houses a comprehensive snapshot of the patient.
- Medical & Clinical Research: A holistic view of a patient’s history allows for more convenient, efficient, and effective treatment. Rather than submitting lengthy patient forms to each provider, the Health Records API supplies physicians with secure and efficient access.
- Nutrition Planning: Health conditions like high cholesterol or high blood pressure are taken into account when specific users plan out their diet and nutrition.
“Medical information may be the most important personal information to a consumer, and offering access to Health Records was the first step in empowering them. Now, with the potential of Health Records information paired with Health Kit data, patients are on the path to receiving a holistic view of their health.”
– Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer, Apple
With immediate access to private medical information available in the palm of your hand, Apple uses Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) to safeguard user’s health records. Due to government regulations requiring healthcare facilities to provide electronic health records (EHR) to patients, many health systems offer privately owned apps and portals for access. These apps, while helpful, do not allow physicians access outside of that system. This limitation prevents a streamlined and efficient method of care. Through the Apple Health Records project, physicians and patients alike are able to view allergies, diseases, immunizations, lab results, medication, and conditions. FHIR utilization offers the protection needed for patients to feel secure with this technology.
Users can feel confident their private information remains protected. Apple officials have designed the Health Records API as an encrypted resource, secured through a user’s iPhone passcode, facial recognition, or Touch ID. If a user chooses to share their medical information with a provider, the health records travel through the trusted app directly from Apple HealthKit to the healthcare provider, making no delivery to Apple’s servers. When a user chooses to sync their health information with iCloud, it is also encrypted throughout the transmission process.
The Future of Apple’s Health Records API
When Apple began piloting this project, it joined with 12 hospitals to test the development and research. Shortly after, the number of hospitals who teamed with the tech giant more than tripled. Currently, Apple continues to experience exponential growth with the project, with the current provider list nearing 80 provider institutions and more than 500 hospitals and clinics. According to Apple officials, the new API is scheduled for Fall 2018 delivery.
Health informatics professionals are at the heart of this healthcare-technology innovation movement. You can learn how to best implement new technologies such as Apple’s Health Records app by earning your Master of Health Informatics today. Downloading our program brochure to learn more: