P.M. Fornasari 2019/02/12

Apple Health Records, a feature that lets users upload their health records from participating health systems onto their phone, is officially coming to US veterans courtesy of a Department of Veterans Affairs partnership announced by Apple this morning in a blog post.

Soon, veterans receiving their care through the government organization will have access to a portable aggregated record of their allergies, immunizations, lab results, procedures and other health measures that they can view from the Health app of their iPhone. These data will be secured and compatible with the dozens of other health systems and institutions already participating in Apple’s personal health record program.

“When patients have better access to their health information, they have more productive conversations with their physicians,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO. “By bringing Health Records on iPhone to VA patients, we hope veterans will experience improved healthcare that will enhance their lives.”

What’s the impact

Interoperability has been a longtime issue in the United States. While EHR adoption by American providers has generally increased since President Barack Obama kicked off an incentive program in 2009, many hospitals implemented incompatible systems from a range of different EHR vendors. The issue has also plagued the VA, which initially developed its own in-house platform and has since made major commitments toward transitioning to a more modern system.

Apple’s user-friendly platform could make it easier for individual veterans to manage their own health and, if well implemented, could help the national health system better support health record transfers. It’s also a major win for the consumer tech company, as the VA provides care services to more than 9 million veterans across 1,243 facilities, according to Apple.

What’s the trend

Apple Health Records launched in March of 2018 just two months after announcing its beta, and at the time supported 39 health systems. The time since has seen a number of additional systems and services jump on board, as well as the launch of additional APIs for developers.

Rumors of today’s news with the VA also sprang up in November. Emails obtained at the time by the Wall Street Journal suggested that talks between the VA and Apple involved Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, who at the time, was not a government employee but rather an acquaintance of President Donald Trump’s through the Mar-a-Lago resort. Moskowitz, a primary care doctor in Florida, was previously included Trump’s meeting with a small group of healthcare executives, according to STAT News. His emails discuss prioritizing tools that let veterans find nearby services via geotagging and the ability to share results and track prescriptions. In the emails he also alluded to making the technology available for active duty military personal as well. 

On the record

“We have great admiration for veterans, and we’re proud to bring a solution like Health Records on iPhone to the veteran community,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “It’s truly an honor to contribute to the improved healthcare of America’s heroes.”

tags: Apple Health, Department of Veteran Affairs, Health records, Digital Health

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