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Apple to Introduce Health Records API

June 5, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
| Reprints

Apple has announced that it will be introducing a Health Records API (application programming interface) for developers and researchers with the goal “to create an ecosystem of apps that use health record data to better manage medications, nutrition plans, diagnosed diseases and more.”

According to a June 4 announcement, the Health Records feature allows patients of more than 500 hospitals and clinics to access medical information from various institutions organized into one view on their iPhone. “For the first time, consumers will be able to share medical records from multiple hospitals with their favorite trusted apps, helping them improve their overall health,” Apple officials stated.

In January, Apple announced that it would be launching the Health Records feature that will allow consumers to see their medical records right on their iPhone. The tech giant began testing out the feature with 12 hospitals, noting at the time that it has “worked with the healthcare community to take a consumer-friendly approach, creating Health Records based on FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), a standard for transferring electronic medical records.” Then, in March, Apple said that 39 health systems have already signed on to launch Health Records.

And now, with the new API set to be delivered starting this fall, officials say that developers building health apps can individualize experiences, with the user’s permission, based on the user’s unique health history across several key categories, including:

  • Medication tracking: Medisafe, a medication management app, will connect with the Health Records feature so consumers can import their prescription list without manual entry.
  • 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.
  • Nutrition planning: A healthy eating app could offer consumers tailored programs based on their high blood pressure or cholesterol results by serving up low salt or high fiber meal plans.
  • Medical research: With the new Health Records API, doctors can integrate patient medical data into their ResearchKit study apps for a more complete view of their participants’ health background.

Apple officials note that Health Records data is encrypted on iPhone and protected with the consumer’s iPhone passcode. When consumers choose to share their health record data with trusted apps, the data flows directly from HealthKit to the third-party app and is not sent to Apple’s servers.

“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 HealthKit data, patients are on the path to receiving a holistic view of their health,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “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.”

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