New iPhone Health app feature gives doctors easier access to data

Patients can share their health data directly

People with smartphones and wearable devices regularly report everything from their heart rate to sleep patterns with app readouts at the doctor’s office. Now, with the new iOS 15 update this fall, some iPhone users will be able to send data directly from their Health app to their doctors’ electronic medical records system.

Such integration could make it easier for patients to share information with their doctors, said Libo Wang, a cardiology fellow at the University of Utah School of Medicine. “The current workflow is mildly laborious, and requires emailing the PDF to the patient, and a physician manually uploading that file to create a permanent record in the official electronic medical record,” he said in an email. ledge.

Users can already pull data from the other direction: Since 2018, Apple has allowed people to add records dozens About clinics and hospitals on their health app.

The new integration will work with six electronic medical record companies in the United States. This includes the Cerner, which controls the surrounding quarter of the market, and five smaller groups. Apple says it may continue to add more. Doctors who access those companies’ records will be able to open any shared data within a patient’s health record. The dashboard opens as a web view directly inside the record; It does not move the providers to any other external app. Apple says the design is identical to the records from each of the six companies.

Health app data is not transferred directly to the electronic health record. The doctor can see a window with the data, but the information is not permanently added to the record. If an iPhone user decides to stop sharing their health data, no one remains in the health record. The system is built using a framework called using Smart on FHIR, an open interface for third party applications that can operate within an electronic health record. Any group can create an app using the platform.

For physicians — and cardiologists in particular — direct access to iPhone data within health records could help them make more meaningful use of the information, Wang said. One 2020 study found that when physicians directly reviewed a strip made by the Apple Watch that visually showed the user’s heart rate, they were able to flag more cases of abnormal heart rhythms than the Watch’s algorithm. If the rhythm strips are shared directly to one’s doctor, the doctor may be able to recognize any associated patterns.

However, the downside is the potential for information overload, Wang said. More data is not necessarily better, especially if doctors do not trust its accuracy. Although the data collected by wearables and smartphones may seem helpful to patients, it’s still not entirely clear whether it actually helps people feel better or gives them better care, he said. .

Cerner, one of the electronic health record companies that participated in the initial rollout, was able to test the new Apple facility for employees at its onsite clinic. “Safe ways to view and share this information in a clinical context have been helpful,” said Sam Lambson, the company’s vice president of interoperability.

It’s more and more common for patients to bring health data from their personal devices to health visits, and Lambson said Cerner is focused on efforts to incorporate it into their systems outside of the new Apple program as well. One advantage of the Apple system is that it’s easy for doctors to use, said Jessica Owes, director of product management at Cerner.

“I think the key to that is definitely empowering and making the patient feel more at the center and safe, and making it easier for them to share. But at the same time, it’s really presenting the data in a way that helps the physician actionable and relevant to this,” she said.

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