Apple Opens Health Records API to Developers

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Health Records data are encrypted and protected with the user's iPhone passcode. For the first time, consumers will be able to share medical records from multiple hospitals with their favorite trusted app, helping them improve their overall health.

Disease Management: A diabetes app could access a patient's lab results from their Health Records as well as their diet and exercise details through the existing iOS HealthKit integration, allowing for a more complete picture of the consumer and the best ways to encourage them to stay on track.

Centura Health patients can now access their medical information through Health Records on their iPhones. Using the Health Records API, Medisafe users at participating health systems will now be able to import their prescription lists, making it easier to get started with the app, to set reminders, and to catch problematic drug-drug interactions.

Apple suggests that developers could use the medical data to personalize apps tailored for medication tracking, disease management, nutrition planning and medical research. When users choose to share their health record data with trusted apps, the data flows directly from HealthKit to the third-party app and it's not transferred to Apple's servers.

The company has quickly found partners for the initiative. Apple worked with the health care community to take a consumer-friendly approach and created the program Health Records. Together with ResearchKit, study apps can integrate patient medical data into their studies to provide a more complete view of participants' health.

"This is more exciting progress in what will become more and more common-consumer control of their data in the form of a longitudinal health record", comments Karen DeSalvo, MD, former National Coordinator for Health IT and now professor at the Dell Medical School.

The API roll-out is an update to the personal health record debut Apple made in January. Then, in March, Apple said that 39 health systems have already signed on to launch Health Records.

Intermountain's Huff, who has been a longtime advocate of standard clinical data models and terminologies, says his only concern is that there is a need to further standardize the models and terminology used in FHIR services so that the industry ends up with true semantic interoperability across the marketplace.

At the WWDC opening keynote yesterday, Apple mostly shied away from healthcare, but did include a number of fitness-related announcements around the Apple Watch.

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