- Apple is making its Health Records API available for developers and researchers, and said its PHR is now connected with more than 500 hospitals and clinics.
- The Cupertino, California-based tech giant said Monday it hopes the API will help create "an ecosystem of apps that use health record data to better manage medications, nutrition plans, diagnosed diseases and more."
- The Health Records data is encrypted on the iPhone and patients manage their health record data permissions.
The API roll-out is an update to the personal health record debut Apple made in January.
The company has quickly found partners for the initiative. In April, Apple said it partnered with 40 health systems to contribute medical records to the Health Records feature, up from the initial 12 health systems the company announced in January. The PHR feature uses the FHIR data-sharing standard.
When consumers choose to share their health record data with trusted apps, the data flows directly from Apple's HealthKit to the third-party app and is not sent to Apple’s servers.
Still, despite all the hype, the question regarding PHRs remains: Will consumers use it?
Companies like Google have tried and failed to scale out a PHR product, but they largely relied on patients inputting the health data, a daunting task anyone plugging data into a calorie counting app can relate to. Apple's vision for the PHR allows for more of a frictionless experience to get data in and out of an iPhone and into providers' hands.
Still, the concept of PHRs will be tested as providers look to help manage healthcare costs. If patients do adopt and use the PHR app, that could help them rethink their lifestyle, potentially providing more downstream health benefits for both the individual and health system.
Tailwinds for the project include that consumers, industry and the federal government are all expecting more health data sharing as the industry becomes digitized. Many argue that healthcare has already been digitized, so information blocking, the practice of hoarding proprietary health data for financial gains, shouldn't be tolerated anymore.
"Let me be crystal clear, the days of finding creative ways to trap patients in your system must end. It’s not acceptable to limit patient records or to prevent them and their doctor from seeing their complete history outside of a particular healthcare system," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said at HIMSS in March.
The growth in partnerships with Apple show that there's interest in the project. Now, the industry will see how researchers and developers react.