Apple Releases Health Records API to Third-Party Developers, Industry Experts Thrilled

Apple is opening its Health Records platform to app developers, laying the groundwork for an “ecosystem” of new digital tools and allowing patients information from their medical records with trusted apps.

The Records feature, accessed through Apple’s Health app, allows patients of more than 500 US hospitals and clinics to access medical information from various institutions organized into one view on their iPhones. For the first time, consumers will be able to share medical records from multiple hospitals with their favorite trusted apps, helping them improve their overall health.

“With the potential of Health Records information paired with HealthKit data, patients are on the path to receiving a holistic view of their health,” Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said in a statement. “With the Health Records API open to our incredible community of developers and researchers, consumers can personalize their health needs with the apps they use every day.”

Since Apple’s announcement, many industry experts have been praising the Cupertino company. “Apple is one of the few companies on the planet that would attempt to connect consumers to the different Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems that exist, and perhaps the only one capable of pulling it off,” say smart patient MD Sebastian Gaede and CTO of MyTherapy Wolfram Kerl (via Computerworld).

“If they do – and the early signs are certainly promising – the mass connectivity that will exist is like nothing we have seen before,” the interview continues. “From a consumer’s perspective, they can truly centralize and take control of their health records. By sharing this data with health apps, the personalization and user experience will far exceed anything currently available.”

Many experts believe that Apple’s opening-up of its Health Records API to third-party developers is lending strength to the democratization of healthcare, making it more accessible to everyone.

“Democratization of healthcare must happen, and it will,” the interviewees explain. It is unacceptable for people to have to fight to gain access to their health records to which they are legally entitled. Technology such as the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), the standard upon which Apple Health Records is built, is making huge strides in overcoming these obstacles.”

“FHIR was developed with the intention of allowing different EHR systems to communicate with each other,” they continue. “However, the ‘last mile’ of healthcare, the connection from clinical systems to end consumers, so far has proven hard to crack. Apple Health Records is probably the biggest push so far for bridging it.”

Looking at the bigger picture, Apple‘s play for the health care market is a challenge to fellow tech giants such as Microsoft and Google, who’ve both been inserting themselves into the space.