Apple Announces Patient-Centric EMR mHealth App

As has long been rumored, 12 national health systems, including Cedars-Sinai Health in Los Angeles, Geisinger Health System and Dignity Health, have been working with Apple to establish a way to access EMR data on iPhones or iPads. This week, Apple finally announced that iOS 11.3 will include a feature that allows users to access their EMR data through the “Health” app.

Although only released as a beta to date, the app will be widely available for free download soon, providing patients with unprecedented visibility into their health records. Patients at participating hospitals would also be updated every time a new record is entered into their EMR. This increased transparency could significantly improve patient engagement and streamline communication between patients and caregivers. Apple and participating health systems hope that offering patients greater visibility into their health information will enable them to make healthier decisions and, subsequently, live healthier lifestyles.

However, this approach is not without challenges. Records will only be available to Apple users, which is problematic as the iPhone’s price point is not affordable for many. More troubling, those that are unable to afford the iPhone comprise a disproportionate percentage of patients who would likely benefit the most from this effort.

Nonetheless, this marks an important milestone along the path to interoperability. As health systems increasingly agree to participate and share their EMR records, medical information that was historically scattered across the country will have a central home on patients’ phones. Apple has also confirmed that Cerner, Epic and athenahealth were all participants in the initiative.

As patients increasingly use technology to better manage their health, organizations need to consider their approach to virtual health. Don’t have a virtual health strategy? Sg2 members can refer to the Sg2 publication: Virtual Health: Aligning Solutions With Enterprise-Wide Priorities to learn how virtual health can play an important role at your organization. Not an Sg2 member? Contact us to learn more.

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