Apple, Microsoft join effort to simplify health data access


Apple could help bring health records into the 21st century.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple will be among the companies represented at a meeting today, hosted by a group that’s supporting the Department of Health and Human Services’ efforts to make it easier for patients to access and share their health data.

The organizers are nonpartisan group Carin Alliance. More than 40 people representing some of the biggest companies in the industry will attend in-person or on the phone. Apple’s representative is Ricky Bloomfield, a doctor with expertise in HealthKit and ResearchKit, who joined Apple in 2016.

Microsoft and Google will also attend the meeting in some capacity.

People in favor of the plans to simplify patient-driven data access think it will make the system more transparent. Currently, health data is frequently available only in outdated formats, such as via CD-ROM or by fax. This makes it tougher to move between doctors and health systems. It also make it tougher to share data with health-related apps.

But Epic Systems, one of the biggest U.S. medical records companies, worries it could be a threat to patient privacy.

Simplifying health data records

Apple has increasingly focused on the topic of digital healthcare in recent years. Tim Cook has said he thinks Apple’s contributions to the health field, as evidenced through initiatives like the Apple Watch’s ECG tech, could be the company’s biggest legacy.

Last year, Apple introduced a Health Records feature for veterans, created in association with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The feature lets patients look at an all-in-one snapshot of their health profile. All Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID or Face ID.

For a look at what will be discussed during today’s Carin Alliance meeting, you can check out an itinerary here. A list of all attendees, both in person and via the phone, is available to look at here. Apple’s Dr. Bloomfield will be attending via telephone only.

Source: CNBC