US health companies take to iPhone app
April 17, 2018
Nearly 40 health companies across the USA are letting patients in hundreds of hospitals and clinics view their medical records from their iPhone.
They are using the updated health records section within the Health app to see medical information from various institutions organised into one view. Users receive notifications when their data are updated.
This information can help patients better understand their health history, have informed conversations with physicians and family members, and make future decisions. Health records data are encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.
To see how this can help medical staff, consider Robert Harrington, cardiologist and chairman of the Department of Medicine at Stanford. When he sees patients, they frequently pass him stacks of printed medical records and spreadsheets, hand-drawn charts or their smartphone with notes and photos. Occasionally, they’ll enter his office with grocery bags full of medications to walk him through the details of their care.
“People hand you all sorts of things these days,” he said, “and more data are almost never bad, but when they show up with paper, how do you summate that?”
He’s hired a skilled team to take on the Herculean task of pulling it all together.
“It is a labour intensive, very tedious task,” he said, and as such he welcomes the ability to use the patient’s iPhone.
“Any time you can put information in patients’ and doctors’ hands and allow there to be more informed decision making, that is the best of all,” he said.
In a world where patients have more technological access to data than ever, a platform such as Apple’s health records is, in his words, “an important manoeuvre for patient empowerment and the way the world needs to be”.
Years ago, a patient who had trouble breathing came into Paul Testa of NYU Langone's emergency department and showed their medical ID on their iPhone. The phone provided Testa with relevant information such as allergy details to be able to support the patient’s care.
“With that information, I could make inferences about who my patient was when they couldn’t tell me themselves,” he said. “Now, there’s a whole different world on our patients’ and my phone.”
As chief medical information officer at NYU Langone, Testa works to improve the digital experience for patients and colleagues that gives them more power and better care. Eight generations of his family have practiced as physicians and he is invested in improving the family trade through technology.
When it comes to patients coming into the ER, Testa said: “There’s always some chaos that got you there.” He said technology could help facilitate more meaningful conversations.
For example, he implemented a service for ER doctors through Apple Watch’s push notifications. Today, 35 doctors can request notifications for vital lab results so they see the results and respond quickly as well as be notified as their patients’ progress through the system from arrival to discharge.
He said the health records feature was “an incredible first step to being able to have the patient take possession of their own information”, but more importantly “it highlights where we’re going to end up”.
The health records feature was previously available to patients who joined the Apple beta software programme. Today, patients from 39 health institutions can view their medical records simply by updating their iOS software on their iPhone. The 39 institutions are:
Northeast and mid-Atlantic USA
- Geisinger Health System
- Johns Hopkins Medicine
- LifeBridge Health
- MedStar Health
- NYU Langone Health
- Partners HealthCare
- Penn Medicine
- Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals
- Valley Medical Group
- Yale New Haven Health and Yale Medicine
- Cerner Healthe Clinic
- Mosaic Life Care
- Nebraska Methodist Health System
- Rush University Medical Center
- Southwest General Health Center
- Truman Medical Centers
- University of Chicago Medicine
- Adventist Health System
- BayCare Health System
- Duke University Health System
- Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
- Mission Health
- Ochsner Health System
- Ortho Virginia
- TSAOG Orthopaedics
- UNC Health Care
- Vanderbilt University Medical Center
- WVU Medicine
- Dignity Health
- Eisenhower Health
- Providence St. Joseph Health
- Scripps Health
- Stanford Medicine
- UC Irvine Health
- UC San Diego Health