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Apple Releases Health Records API for Patient Data Sharing

The API will allow developers to create apps suited for patient data sharing. Ideally, this will enhance interoperability and patient engagement with care.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- Apple has launched its Health Records application programming interface (API) allowing consumers to share patient data from third-party apps with their providers. The API is now open for developers interested in medication management, disease management, and areas of patient engagement.

The Health Records API will allow consumers to take health data gleaned from their preferred mHealth apps and share it with one of over 500 hospitals and clinics participating in this initial rollout of Apple Health Records.

Third-party apps can connect to Health Records using the API. In turn, patients can use Health Records like a personal health record that will share all pertinent patient health data and patient-generated health data (PGHD) with providers.

Specifically, the API will allow patients to share health data related to medication management, nutrition plans, diagnosed diseases, and other patient portal information such as immunizations and lab results.

This high level of patient involvement with health data will likely have a positive impact on patient wellness. Patients who are more knowledgeable about their health and play a hand in managing that health tend to be more engaged, according to Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams.

“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,” Williams said in a statement. “Now, with the potential of Health Records information paired with HealthKit data, patients are on the path to receiving a holistic view of their health. With the Health Records API open to our incredible community of developers and researchers, consumers can personalize their health needs with the apps they use every day.”

Health Records data sharing is bidirectional, Apple explained. For example, a diabetes app plugged into Health Records could leverage the patient portal information included on Health Records. Conversely, any data generated from the diabetes app can be included on the patient portal.

This development comes as Apple is trying its hand at medical data management. Earlier this year, the company announced the Health Records app stating that it will allow patients to view all of their medical information and share that data with relevant providers or caregivers. The move sought to make Health Records akin to other personal health records that patients manage themselves.

The outlook is promising for these developments, clinicians have said. A KLAS Performance Report pertaining to Health Records found that early Health Records adopters are pleased with the tool.

“The revelation created a stir for at least a few reasons,” the report authors posited. “(1) Apple is a consumer-oriented healthcare outsider; (2) Apple is attempting to make inroads where peers Google and Microsoft have failed; and (3) the feature has the potential to impact millions of patients given the iPhone’s broad customer base.”

Although early adopters said they are excited by the new Apple innovations, they added that Apple could face pitfalls should it fail to scale the product effectively.


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