How Apple’s Health Records Could Reshape Patient Engagement

Dignity Health’s chief digital officer explains why he thinks Apple can succeed for population health and precision medicine efforts where other PHR launches have not.

By Mike Miliard     April 18, 2018     09:46 AM

As a longtime collaborator with Apple – since before it even beta-tested its Health Records project, live now at 39 hospitals – San Francisco-based Dignity Health is in sync with the iPhone developer’s vision, said Shez Partovi, MD.

screensnap of Apple's personal health record feature with iOS 11.3.
A screensnap of Apple’s personal health record feature with iOS 11.3.

“We had been working with Apple prior to their initial announcement for some time,” said Partovi, chief digital officer and senior vice president of digital transformation at Dignity Health. “We’d been working with them for a while because we’re aligned in our philosophies of empowering patients by giving them their data.”

As part of the Health Records launch, Dignity will leverage HL7’s FHIR standard to securely move patients’ health data from own electronic health record system to the iPhones of patients using iOS 11.3 – enabling them manage meds, labs, allergies, conditions and more, and notifying them when the health system makes changes to their health information.

[Also: Apple reveals 39 hospitals to launch Apple Health Records]

“When you think of personalized medicine, you can think about caring for yourself in two dimensions,” said Partovi. “There’s care management, where a health system or physician or team is managing your care, and there’s self-management.”

For those patients managing an illness or a chronic condition, “a big part of your life is self-managing that condition,” he said.

Luckily, nowadays there are “more and more tools out there that will be enhanced if they have your data.” A tool like Apple’s Health Records, that puts valuable EHR data right onto a person’s smartphone, can only be a boon.

“That, for us, has always been the philosophy,” said Partovi. “We recognize that a lot of care happens outside the four walls of a health system. And we believe that for healthy populations we need to give patients their data.”

Picking up where Google left off

The idea of personal health record is nothing new, of course. Most providers offer at least a basic patient portal that can be accessed via computer or smartphone, although utilization of them remains underwhelming.

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