The EHR vendor says Apple Health Records connectivity will promote patient data access and engagement.
EHR vendor MEDITECH is joining the ranks of medical software companies that enable patient data access through the Apple Health Records platform, the company has announced.
Through the partnership, patients can connect their MEDITECH patient portal to the Apple Health Records platform on their iPhones, ideally leading to seamless patient data access and better patient engagement.
“Engaging patients, driving consumer satisfaction, and delivering patient-centric care are the utmost priorities at MEDITECH,” said Howard Messing, MEDITECH CEO. “With health information from MEDITECH now available via Health Records on iPhone, consumers are provided one convenient, comprehensive record, enabling them to take a more proactive role in managing their own wellness.”
More specifically, the Apple Health Records platform will allow patients to aggregate their patient portal records into one centralized location. Apple leverages the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) API standard to connect patient portals and data from other medical apps or wearable devices into the Health Records platform.
Until now, patient records could have been located in disparate digital locations. A patient visiting two different providers may have had multiple patient portals, while data gleaned from a wearable device or smartwatch would likewise have been unavailable.
The Apple Health Records tool allows patients to aggregate their information into one centralized location.
What’s more, Apple Health Records will make it easier for patients to share their medical information with relevant parties, like a specialty provider or a family caregiver, MEDITECH officials acknowledged. This capability should improve patient empowerment while also driving care coordination.
This announcement comes on the heels of a similar move from competitor EHR vendor Allscripts. In late August 2019, Allscripts unveiled plans to integrate its own patient portal platforms with Apple Health Records.
“With Health Records on iPhone, patients can become more active members of their own care team,” Allscripts Chief Executive Officer, Paul M. Black, said in a statement. “Health Records on iPhone empowers individuals to direct how their own health data is stored and used. We are proud to offer this and other FHIR-connected applications for our clients and their patients.”
EHR giants Epic Systems and Cerner Corporation have also been Apple Health Records partners since the platform’s inception.
Apple Health Records holds a lot of promise for promoting patient data access and patient engagement, industry experts agree. Ideally, the tool should help overcome many of the interoperability and data sharing challenges that have long limited patient activation in care and care coordination.
For example, a patient who keeps a manual – often handwritten – list of his or her medications is not unheard of, according to Bill Hanson, MD, the chief medical information officer at Penn Medicine and an Apple Health Records early adopter.
“They’re trying to be a responsible patient and provide information to the healthcare provider,” Hanson said in an interview with PatientEngagementHIT.com. “It’s tough, but there’s no good way to make that information portable. The Apple effort seemed like something that would be a big step in that direction.”
But there is scant evidence the Apple platform is making any dent in patient engagement. Anecdotally, Hanson said he has not noticed a difference in patient activation in his organization. Perhaps it is too early to truly see a difference, but the evidence reflects Hanson’s experience.
An August 2019 study published in JAMA Open Network showed that few patients with access to their medical records via their smartphone – primarily through Apple Health Records – are actually opening those mobile-optimized records.
Nonetheless, the industry’s leading voices are excited by the notion of Apple Health Records. Early evidence showed that most medical professionals thought Health Records held a lot of promise, and a survey conducted in early 2019 revealed that patients who used the app liked it.
The concept of granting patients the ability to aggregate medical data on their smartphones is catching hold in the Android space as well. In September, Android announced it would build its own health records app, CommonHealth, alongside developers at Cornell, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and The Commons Project.
Project leaders specifically cited the promise of Apple’s endeavors as inspiration.
“Apple has shown real leadership and moved the industry forward by enabling patient access to their health information. Now CommonHealth is significantly expanding the number of people who can benefit from easy electronic access to their health records,” said JP Pollak, the CommonHealth product lead, senior researcher in residence at Cornell Tech, and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.
As these consumer-facing medical records programs continue to permeate the market, more research may be done to understand how they impact patient activation in care.
Date: October 07, 2019