Apple Releases Electronic Health Record Aggregation Tool in iOS 11.3

Knobbe Martens
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According to an Apple press release, iPhone users will now be able to store and view their medical records on their phones as part of a new feature found in iOS 11.3.  Although many patients are already familiar with clinic-specific patient portals, Apple’s new Health Records feature is said to allow patients to download their medical records from a variety of hospitals and clinics, and consolidate those records on their iPhone.

According to Apple, the Health Records feature can be found in Apple’s Health app on updated devices.  The Health Records feature allows participating hospitals and clinics to transfer medical information to a users device. The patient’s medical record data will be stored along with their own patient-generated data in the consolidated Health app.  Users will be able to view recorded allergies, clinical vitals, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures, and similar information.  Users will also be notified whenever their data is updated, such as when lab results are received.

Apple notes that in the past, patients’ medical records were held in multiple locations, requiring patients to log into each care provider’s website and piece together the information manually.

The press release notes that data within the Health Records feature will be encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.  Moreover, no health record data passes through Apple’s network.  Instead, Apple relies on Fast Healthcare Interchangeability Resources (FHIR) and related application programming interfaces (APIs) to transmit the data from a hospital or clinic’s electronic health record (EHR) system directly to a user’s device over an encrypted connection.

As a result, Apple maintains that it does not create, transmit, or receive any protected health information for or on behalf of a covered entity or business associate.  Nevertheless, if a user chooses to sync their health data with iCloud, the data will be encrypted in transit and for storage on Apple’s servers.

With the push to provide patients with their digital health information comes a push for FHIR, solidifying the technology’s viability as a solution to the federal mandate that providers allow patients to access electronic versions of their health records

Apple notes that at this time, around 40 hospitals and clinics are participating, including Johns Hopkins, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine, UC San Diego Health, and Geisinger Health System.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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