Apple announces effortless solution bringing health records to iPhone

Apple today introduced a significant update to the Health app with the iOS 11.3 beta, debuting a feature for customers to see their medical records right on their iPhone. The updated Health Records section within the Health app brings together hospitals, clinics and the existing Health app to make it easy for consumers to see their available medical data from multiple providers whenever they choose. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine and other participating hospitals and clinics are among the first to make this beta feature available to their patients.

In the past, patients’ medical records were held in multiple locations, requiring patients to log into each care provider’s website and piece together the information manually. Apple worked with the healthcare community to take a consumer-friendly approach, creating Health Records based on FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), a standard for transferring electronic medical records.

Now, consumers will have medical information from various institutions organized into one view covering allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals, and will receive notifications when their data is updated. Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.

“Our goal is to help consumers live a better day. We’ve worked closely with the health community to create an experience everyone has wanted for years — to view medical records easily and securely right on your iPhone,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO, in a statement. “By empowering customers to see their overall health, we hope to help consumers better understand their health and help them lead healthier lives.”

New capabilities in Health Records help patients see medical records from multiple providers.
New capabilities in Health Records help patients see medical records from multiple providers.

“Streamlining information sharing between patients and their caregivers can go a long way towards making the patient experience a positive one,” said Stephanie Reel, Chief Information Officer at Johns Hopkins Medicine, in a statement. “This is why we are excited about working with Apple to make accessing secure medical records from an iPhone as simple for a patient as checking email.”

“Putting the patient at the center of their care by enabling them to direct and control their own health records has been a focus for us at Cedars-Sinai for some time. We are thrilled to see Apple taking the lead in this space by enabling access for consumers to their medical information on their iPhones. Apple is uniquely positioned to help scale adoption because they have both a secure and trusted platform and have adopted the latest industry open standards at a time when the industry is well positioned to respond,” said Darren Dworkin, Chief Information Officer at Cedars-Sinai.

The new Health Records section is available to the patients of the following medical institutions as part of the iOS 11.3 beta. In the coming months, more medical facilities will connect to Health Records offering their patients access to this feature. Further information for health institutions is available here.

• Johns Hopkins Medicine – Baltimore, Maryland
• Cedars-Sinai – Los Angeles, California
• Penn Medicine – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• Geisinger Health System – Danville, Pennsylvania
• UC San Diego Health – San Diego, California
• UNC Health Care – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
• Rush University Medical Center – Chicago, Illinois
• Dignity Health – Arizona, California and Nevada
• Ochsner Health System – Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
• MedStar Health – Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia
• OhioHealth – Columbus, Ohio
• Cerner Healthe Clinic – Kansas City, Missouri

MacDailyNews Take: Another excellent step along the way to solving the health record conundrum!

With capabilities like this, untold numbers of lives will be saved.

One of the biggest issues in healthcare in the U.S. today is that there is no “Quarterback” – someone running the effort, coordinating the various specialists, making sure everyone is on the same page with the treatment plan(s), drug interactions, allergies, etc. A “playbook” showing the full picture of the patient’s health data would be very useful – and let the disparate medical personnel each quarterback on their own. Hopefully, Apple can step in, build, and fulfill this need with the company’s vaunted security and privacy.MacDailyNews, August 22, 2016

The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs developed pancreatic cancer in 2004. He then spent a great deal of time with doctors and the healthcare system until his death in 2011. While that personal health journey had a great impact on Jobs personally, it turns out that it affected Apple’s top management, too. During this time, Jobs discovered how disjointed the healthcare system can be. He took on the task of trying to bring some digital order to various aspects of the healthcare system, especially the connection between patients, their data, and their healthcare providers…

I have long been observing these key moves around healthcare, which accelerated after Jobs’ death. It seems clear that Apple’s management has now and will continue to have a major focus on bridging the gap between a person and their healthcare providers. I believe Apple is on a mission to improve the overall health of its customers as well as that of the healthcare system, a task Jobs gave them before he died. And while Apple’s products define Jobs’ legacy, it may turn out that his and Apple’s greatest contribution may be to bring greater order to the fragmented healthcare world.

It is within this backdrop that the Apple Watch was born.Tim Bajarin, TIME Magazine, May 09, 2016

Apple working with a start-up ‘Health Gorilla’ in secretive personal health record initiative – October 20, 2017
Apple’s healthcare plans under the microscope: From iPhone apps to Apple Watch and what comes next – October 4, 2017
Apple granted U.S. patent for iPhone that measures and analyzes health data – August 8, 2017
Apple working with start-up on iPhone Electronic Health Records plan – June 19, 2017
Apple’s profound iPhone plans for healthcare – June 15, 2017
Apple acquires Gliimpse – August 22, 2016
Apple rehires Flipboard co-founder Evan Doll to develop health software – August 12, 2016
Apple working on all-new, advanced health-tracking hardware; years in the making – August 9, 2016
The real reason why Apple made the Apple Watch – May 09, 2016
Tim Cook hints Apple might build a health device – November 10, 2015
Apple’s Tim Cook declares the end of the PC and hints at new medical product – November 10, 2015
Apple announces new ResearchKit studies for autism, epilepsy and melanoma – October 15, 2015
GlaxoSmithKline working on integrating Apple’s revolutionary ResearchKit into clinical trials – July 13, 2015
ResearchKit, Apple’s medical data experiment, explained – May 20, 2015
Apple announces ResearchKit available today to medical researchers – April 14, 2015
Why Apple’s ResearchKit signals a golden age for health care – March 28, 2015
ResearchKit: The inside story of how Apple’s revolutionary medical research platform was born – March 19, 2015
Apple’s open source ResearchKit will change the world for the better – March 9, 2015
Apple debuts ResearchKit, giving medical researchers the tools to revolutionize medical studies – March 9, 2015


  1. “Apple today introduced a significant update to the Health app with the iOS 11.3 beta, debuting a feature for customers to see their medical records right on their iPhone.”

    Why? That’s insane!

    1. I don’t understand your negative reaction. I can already see most of my health records on my iPhone. I just have to use a different app for each provider. Now that seems “insane.”

      I can tell you from personal experience that when following a particular lab value, for example, looking at the results from only one provider can be misleading. You need to see all the results in one place. That’s not possible without an app like this.

        1. One really great thing about the Health app is that if you fill in the appropriate details, should you be in a situation where first responders have to assist you, they will be able to access important details such as allergies, medication and known conditions and will also be able to contact your close relatives too. That can all be done without being able to unlock your iPhone, which you might not be in a situation to do anyway.

          Your medical practitioner might keep comprehensive details about you, but if you happen to be abroad when you fall ill, it’s not going to be an easy task for the local medic who is treating you to access your records back home.

          If I could choose one place to keep my medical records, I couldn’t think of a better place than a secure device which is always with me.

        2. “One really great thing about the Health app is that if you fill in the appropriate details, should you be in a situation where first responders have to assist you,…”

          ..would be dead if they have to deal with a locked iPhone. First responders job is to stabilized your condition to transport you to the hospital alive. At the hospital they further stabilize your condition and begin collecting data.

          This has been and still is being down without the iPhone app.

        3. Here’s an example. Let’s say you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It’s very important to keep an eye on your lymphocyte count, as well as several other blood values. If you’ve been following your condition for 10 years, and have gotten your blood drawn at two or three different labs because the orders came from different doctors, there is no way you will be able to keep all the values straight in you head. And yet it is absolutely critical to have all the information in once place when making treatment decisions. Right now, even the doc, who may have had all the labs faxed to him from each lab, won’t have them in one place, because most electronic health records just file those labs and don’t display them all in one place. Interoperability is a huge problem. If Apple could solve it for an iPhone, they could solve it for the major electronic health record vendors as well.

  2. “MacDailyNews Take: Another excellent step along the way to solving the health record conundrum!”

    uh? When as this ever been a national problem? Not having affordable health insurance is a national problem, not this. Go ask Jen Lawrence about having private data at your finger tips (iCloud)

      1. In the link you provided.

        “As an example of an error that can occur, I recall a patient who was with our team for nearly four weeks. He had multiple complex medical illnesses and, unfortunately, had not been forthright with (or perhaps had not been knowledgeable about) any of his previous hospitalizations. He had spent 70 to 80 percent of his earlier six months in and out of several hospitals in the Bay Area.”

        This man had been using emergency rooms as a primary physician. He used no less than tree hospitals for such. All this before finally going to a doctor. The problem was he didn’t have healthcare.

        You are confusing the symptom with the problem.

  3. It is absolutely inexcusable in 2018 that when I am referred to a specialist by my main doctor, that I have to re-enter all my health-data and personal info (usually on paper, no less) and then a medical admin has to re-enter it into the computer. It is a huge waste of everyone’s time and a huge opportunity for gaps and errors to creep in.

    There should be a quick and easy way to transfer this data within a network, and then perhaps, simply have me proof it each time I check in with a new physician.

  4. And why do we not have competition for healthcare beyond state lines is ridiculous.
    That was one of Trump’s main campaign promises.
    But I’m dumbfounded that neither party supports this.

  5. My wife and I have ben through 7 cancers – including Acute Leukemia with 2 years of chemo fir the wife. I have a lot of medical data own my iPhone and Mac and want to include more data. The keys for this information? When I go to the Dr I simply hand the nurse the iPhone with the list of Meds displayed. Something that simple is important.

    Sadly you need to hand over insurance cards every visit because people change their policies all the time. That and other admin details are a pain to go through, but patients benefit over time. The younger you are the more supporting these systems as you grow to old age.

    Finally it is an opportunity for patients to look over their records after hospital stays. My wife does that all the time and have caught times Wien the nurse enters another patient’s information in her account.

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