What's the Latest with Apple Health Records?

In January 2018, Apple released an announcement about their update to the Health app allowing for updated Health Records to be accessed by consumers. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine, University of California San Diego Health, and other participating hospitals and clinics were the first to make the beta feature available to patients.

Results from the first study was released one year later (January 2019) and published in JAMA (Personal Health Records: More Promising in the Smartphone Era?) The University of California San Diego Health was an early adopter of the Apple Health Records feature, as one of the first 12 health systems to test the app, and their researchers set out to gauge the initial reactions of patients to the new platform. As of fall 2018, UC San Diego Health has hundreds of personal health record users who have downloaded thousands of clinical results and other pieces of medical information though the platform.

The study found that early adopters were highly enthusiastic about the prospect of accessing updated medical records using the app. The study found that patients were generally satisfied with the app’s ease-of-use and felt that it improved their understanding of their health and facilitated conversations with clinicians.

The research, led by Christian Dameff, M.D., department of emergency medicine; Brian Clay, M.D., department of medicine, and Christopher Longhurst, M.D., department of pediatrics as well as CIO and associate CMO at UCSD, was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (link above).

Interoperability is not a new idea. There have been significant challenges with making electronic data usable and interoperable (between different users and systems). Now as this moves forward, practitioners will need to update EHR systems and standard processes. As of 2012, an estimated 62% of physicians were still using the fax machine as a primary means of communication.

Health informatics experts agree that if this general capability is going to benefit all patients in the U.S., it will need to eventually expand beyond Apple to other smartphone devices.