House call startup Heal integrates Apple Health Records to better inform care

Through a new integration with Apple Health Records, the company’s physicians are able to access a patient’s medical history with the Heal OnCall iPad app, speeding up the data sharing process and better informing decisions by the care team.

When Heal CEO Nick Desai’s back issue flared up, he had to visit his specialists and print out reams of paper in order to effectively communicate his prior medical history to his primary care physician.

“One of the Holy Grails in medicine is the lack of synchronization and coordination of care between inpatient and outpatient care, that problem exists in part because all these systems are separate and siloed off,” Desai said in a phone interview.

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A new feature from the Los Angeles-based startup is meant to start to chip away at those barriers. Through an integration with Apple Health Records, the company’s physicians are able to access a patient’s medical history with the Heal OnCall iPad app, speeding up the data sharing process and better informing decisions by the care team.

Heal was founded in 2014 that has raised more than $70 million in funding to support the growth of its on-demand physician house call network. The company – which claims to have delivered 80,000 house calls and saved customers $55 million in healthcare costs – is active in California, Washington D.C. and Virginia.

The new partnership is part of Apple’s efforts to give patients more access and control over their medical records. The idea is to help patients better understand their medical history, improve the quality of interactions with their physicians and family members, and make more informed decisions about their care.

Apple Health Records operate using Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), a standard meant overcome some of technical hurdles in sharing EMR data. One other company which has been able to integrate data from the company’s system is medication management startup Medisafe, which uses Health Records to more easily important pharmaceutical and prescription information.

The tech giant has worked with dozens of hospitals and clinics around the country to incorporate their EMR data into the iPhone health record. Heal patients who have an iPhone are offered the choice on sharing their health history after they make an appointment.

So what does this look like from the physician’s perspective?

Heal physician Dr. Joe Cullaro said that the new integration will help “streamline” the existing process in getting hospital records, a largely manual effort that relies on filling out request forms and waiting for administrators to fax over documents.

“As a PCP, the chances are likely that nobody at your office has seen the patient before and we have limited information other than what their self-reported symptoms are,” Cullaro said in a phone interview.

“Having concrete data, whether its labs, or medications, allows you to prioritize what to focus on in the visit and be more effective.”

He used the example of fine tuning a hypertension patient’s heart medication based on their prior hospitalization and medical history. 

Desai said the company has focused on not just providing access to records, but making them contextually relevant and organized in a way for it be actionable for the physician.

The integration with Apple Health Records also reflect the company’s increasing focus on the management of complex and chronic conditions. Earlier this year Heal launched its WellBe device, which connects to other health tracking devices to collect and automatically upload metrics like blood sugar, heart rate and blood pressure.

“I think the real strength in this integration is with these complex conditions that are really hard to manage,” Cullaro said.

“It makes it easier to move from a hospital situation where they’re mainly focused on stabilization to a place where the primary care physician can come in and take care of you for the long term.” 

Photo: Pixtum, Getty Images