Apple’s Health Records Drives Digital Transformation

image of medical devices and tools on table, view from above

The transformation process of bringing the medical and healthcare industries into the digital age has been picking up speed in the last few years and Apple has stepped in to catalyze things even further with its Health Records app. Years ago the biggest challenge was transferring paper files to digital files in private practices and hospitals. Now, with insurance and medical providers all jumping onto the digital bandwagon, patients are faced with a new challenge: finding all their records in one place. Similarly, healthcare companies are faced with beginning to see their patients as customers.

With Apple’s new Health Records app on iOS 11.3, users can easily carry their records with them in their pocket.

How it works

HL7, a non-profit organization that sets the framework and standard for the transfer and integration of electronic health records, has an FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard that Apple has utilized for the transfer and and authentication process that allows patients to access their complete health record in the Health app.

Set up of the app is easy.

First, Apple introduces you to the new app by asking for your permission.

image of Apple Health Record asking user permission to allow app

Next, you’re asked to search for your provider. Apple will show you all providers available in your area.

image of Health Records app screen searching for providers

Once you find your provider, you can select and connect to their network using the credentials that you would have used to access their online patient portal.

image from Apple Health Records, user selected Partners Healthcare

After selecting your provider and information, you can see your information from your health providers on your phone.

image of Apple Health Records showing a user's health stats

What does this mean for patients?

What Apple has effectively done is allow a patient to have a more complete view of their Health Records by consolidating all of their information from various healthcare  providers, in one location. The one shortcoming of the system thus far is that if you use healthcare  providers in different networks, they may not all have their information available in the Health Records interface. For example, the patient whose information is seen above, has had other check-ups and appointments since 2014, but because they were seen by a different provider that has not yet enabled Apple Health Record integration, not all of the information is available on the patient’s phone. Still, Apple has provided an easier way for patients to access their records on mobile. For patients who have had to log in to separate patient portals to access records across providers of different specialties, this had improved the user experience entirely.

What does this mean for providers?

Now that healthcare and medicine are being brought into the digital world, patients are being seen not only as people receiving medical care but as customers of a service and users of products. With the shift of how patients are considered, providers will be forced to shift their perspective as well. Not only will clinics, hospitals, and health organizations that haven’t adopted FHIR standards be influenced to modernize their practices and processes, but the technology will be more focused on the end user (in this case, the patient). 

We look forward to seeing how providers will approach the challenge of delivering more coherent experiences to their patients. If you have any questions about what this shift could mean for your products and/or, your users, get in touch!

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