Apple will finally replace the fax machine in health care

“We’ve seen some spectacular advances in fields ranging from surgery to gene editing, but health care still faces a lackluster problem: Many patients can only get health records from their doctor if the fax machine is working,” Ken Mandl writes for CNBC. “Even when records are stored electronically, different chunks of every patient’s health information sit in inaccessible electronic record systems in different doctors’ offices.”

“Anyone who needs their medical files gets them either printed or faxed or has to log on into separate portals for each doctor and hospital, and even then getting view-only access,” Mandl writes. “That’s a huge pain. View-only apps can’t access data to help patients share information with family and health-care providers, make decisions, monitor disease, stay on course with medications, or just stay healthy.”

“Things are finally changing. Using Apple’s iPhone Health app, patients will soon be able to download and view health records on their phones,” Mandl writes. “Apple uses Smart to connect the health app to hospitals and doctors’ offices. The good news for patients, doctors and innovators is that Apple chose a standardized, open connection over a proprietary, closed one. This approach lets any other app, whether running on the web, iPhone, or Android, use that same interface to connect. So Apple will compete on value and customer satisfaction, rather than on an exclusive lock on the data.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple made the right choice by not trying to exclusively lock up the data. It’s the only way this will work properly to the benefit of all.

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

Why Apple is positioned to win the electronic medical record game with Health Records in iOS 11.3 – January 25, 2018
Apple announces effortless solution bringing health records to iPhone – January 24, 2018
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. But, MDN, this should be the approach to all applications development. Yet everyone develops their own prosprietary standards.

    There should be, if there is not, a medical applications standards development organization. And yes, all medical records should,be in a giant nationwide database for research purposes, and to allow for AI based systems to find correlations and draw conclusions no human can.

    Privacy can be maintained by not electronically releasing the names of people.

    1. From the last paragraph in the MDM article.

      “Apple uses Smart to connect the health app to hospitals and doctors’ offices. The good news for patients, doctors and innovators is that Apple chose a standardized, open connection over a proprietary, closed one”.

      Anonymous medical data which is accessible to companies who already have immense amounts of data about you will not remain anonymous once they start cross matching tiny details and that data could be immensely valuable to insurers. They might not 100% know that a particular record is yours, but they will know with a 99.99% certainty that it’s you because it matches you significantly more than it does anybody else in that database.

      There was a time when I would have agreed that centralised medical records are a great idea, but I don’t think that adequate privacy can be maintained any more in these days of deep data mining.

    1. I remember having one the size of a medium refrigerator. It was so cool. People would come visit us just to see it.

      I also remember spending $4,000 for a 1 gig hard drive. We had to explain to people what a gigabyte was and it was so hard for them to comprehend.

  2. As one who works in healthcare, I certainly hope so.
    Epic, who makes the most widely used EMR software, offers Care Everywhere and has added compatibility with Share Everywhere.

    Use of the service is optional. Just as in the case of Apple, getting an organization to sign on takes some selling. The hard part has never been the technology. Hospital CEOs and Boards are afraid of liability for a data breach.

    1. Where I live, it seems most of the clinics and hospitals use Hewlett-Packard computers usually running older versions of Windows. I’ve never seen anything that had an Apple logo on it. Although I have seen some doctors using iPhones and wearing AppleWatches I’ve never seen any of them with an iPad.

      The use of HP desktop computers is basically they’re being used as terminals and don’t require anything fancy or powerful, so they’re basically being used as low-cost appliances. Apple doesn’t do that sort of stuff and any Apple product would be overkill for any clinic or hospital.

      Apple is basically throwing away any major opportunities to put their own hardware into the health system by pricing themselves out of that particular market.

      1. There’s actually a GREAT medical practice management and medical records package called MacPractice. It’s FAR better than anything on Windoze (no surprise there).

        Apple should be pushing HARD to get Macs into medical offices.

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