Apple's Health Records API paves way for comprehensive medical apps on iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2018
Buried by a mountain of onstage WWDC announcements, Apple on Monday released a new Health Records API to developers, opening the door to a new apps that will allow users to manage medications and diseases diagnoses, track nutrition plans, participate in research and more directly from their iPhone.

Health Records API


Part of Apple's ongoing effort to build out a medical technology ecosystem within its established mobile platforms, Health Records was announced in January as a secure system for sharing medical records between hospitals and patients. That initiative rolled out in iOS 11.3 in March with support from 39 different health groups across the U.S.

The new API released today enables third-party apps to integrate health record data from more than 500 participating hospitals and clinics. Access to health information will allow developers to create tailored apps targeting four key metrics: medication tracking, disease management, nutrition planning and medical research.

"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," said Apple COO Jeff Williams. "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."

For example, an upcoming medicine management app called Medisafe will lean on a patient's medical history to quickly import their prescription list. In doing so, the app can set pill reminders, inform consumers about drugs they are taking and warn of potential negative interactions with other drugs discovered in their patient history. Apple offers other examples of possible apps, including a diabetes app that integrates lab results with diet and activity data aggregated from HealthKit and a healthy eating app that suggests food based on cholesterol and blood pressure readings.

As for research, Apple notes doctors and other professionals can leverage Health Records to more easily integrate patient data into ongoing ResearchKit studies. Immediate access to official health records replaces the time-consuming process of determining pre-existing conditions from patient questionnaires.

Like most Apple initiatives, Health Records was built with consumer privacy in mind. Developers are only able to access health record data -- among the most personal of all information caches -- with express consent from users. Though its technology plays a central role in the data transfer process, Apple is not privy to information sent from HealthKit to permitted third-party apps. Importantly, Health Records data never reaches Apple's servers and is protected on-device by a user's iPhone passcode.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    claire1claire1 Posts: 497unconfirmed, member
    The seeds are being planted for Apple to enter medical seriously.
  • Reply 2 of 7
    WilliamMWilliamM Posts: 1member
    As far as I can tell, Apple Health Records only works for a few hospitals in the United States of America. That means it's useful for at most 4.5% of the world population or perhaps 15% of iPhone users. The population figure is from the US Census Bureau. The iPhone figure is a guess based on 1 billion iPhones sold, 100 million used in the US (not all the ones sold will be in use).
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 7
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 685editor
    WilliamM said:
    As far as I can tell, Apple Health Records only works for a few hospitals in the United States of America. That means it's useful for at most 4.5% of the world population or perhaps 15% of iPhone users. The population figure is from the US Census Bureau. The iPhone figure is a guess based on 1 billion iPhones sold, 100 million used in the US (not all the ones sold will be in use).
    Don't confuse things. Apple Health Records has been available for a few months and works with that early set of hospitals. What -this- article is about is not that; it's about a new API that allows third-party apps to integrate with Apple Health Records, to increase that number of medical providers to about 500. It also allows third party apps to have access to health records, something formerly not possible. Your numbers only make sense for the feature released a few months ago. This is about expanding those numbers and increasing their utility.
    GeorgeBMacStrangeDaysmike1bonobob
  • Reply 4 of 7
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,297member
    vmarks said:
    WilliamM said:
    As far as I can tell, Apple Health Records only works for a few hospitals in the United States of America. That means it's useful for at most 4.5% of the world population or perhaps 15% of iPhone users. The population figure is from the US Census Bureau. The iPhone figure is a guess based on 1 billion iPhones sold, 100 million used in the US (not all the ones sold will be in use).
    Don't confuse things. Apple Health Records has been available for a few months and works with that early set of hospitals. What -this- article is about is not that; it's about a new API that allows third-party apps to integrate with Apple Health Records, to increase that number of medical providers to about 500. It also allows third party apps to have access to health records, something formerly not possible. Your numbers only make sense for the feature released a few months ago. This is about expanding those numbers and increasing their utility.
    OK...  I get that...
    But it also sounds like you need to import your health records from a healthcare provider into Apple Health Records before the API would have anything to access.   And, since the participating provider list is currently so small, wouldn't that limit things just like the previous poster mentioned?   Or, am I missing something?  (Again!  LOL!)
  • Reply 5 of 7
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,308member
    WilliamM said:
    As far as I can tell, Apple Health Records only works for a few hospitals in the United States of America. That means it's useful for at most 4.5% of the world population or perhaps 15% of iPhone users. The population figure is from the US Census Bureau. The iPhone figure is a guess based on 1 billion iPhones sold, 100 million used in the US (not all the ones sold will be in use).
    So was Apple Pay. things have to start somewhere and that’s OK. 
  • Reply 6 of 7
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 7,308member

    vmarks said:
    WilliamM said:
    As far as I can tell, Apple Health Records only works for a few hospitals in the United States of America. That means it's useful for at most 4.5% of the world population or perhaps 15% of iPhone users. The population figure is from the US Census Bureau. The iPhone figure is a guess based on 1 billion iPhones sold, 100 million used in the US (not all the ones sold will be in use).
    Don't confuse things. Apple Health Records has been available for a few months and works with that early set of hospitals. What -this- article is about is not that; it's about a new API that allows third-party apps to integrate with Apple Health Records, to increase that number of medical providers to about 500. It also allows third party apps to have access to health records, something formerly not possible. Your numbers only make sense for the feature released a few months ago. This is about expanding those numbers and increasing their utility.
    OK...  I get that...
    But it also sounds like you need to import your health records from a healthcare provider into Apple Health Records before the API would have anything to access.   And, since the participating provider list is currently so small, wouldn't that limit things just like the previous poster mentioned?   Or, am I missing something?  (Again!  LOL!)
    Yes, that these programs have to start somewhere. I’m in Louisiana and my hospital network participates, sharing my medical records from the MyChart to the HealthKit system. I like it as it allows me to readily keep my data for easy reference even if I leave the provider. 
  • Reply 7 of 7
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,297member
    Actually, I would hesitate to allow anybody (much less an app) to access my health records unsupervised.
    I have electronic health records at three different hospital systems and not one of them are 100% correct.  So, when I go to see a new provider/doctor, I take the records they need to see and that I know are correct.

    Apple, says to contact the provider to have any errors corrected.  But, that is nearly impossible -- particularly if you aren't seeing the particular physician who entered the erroneous or obsolete information.

    For instance:  Every single health system lists me as having high blood pressure and high cholesterol and taking medications for both.   None of that has been true for the past 4 1/2 years.  But it's impossible to correct.

    None of that is Apple's fault.   But still, I am very careful where and how my health information is shared.
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