Health IT

Promising results from UC San Diego’s Apple Health Records implementation

A survey of UC San Diego Apple Health Records users found that 96 percent respondents said it was easy to link their mobile device to the personal health record program.

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A UC San Diego study published in the JAMA medical journal found positive indications about Apple’s attempt to succeed in the PHR space where rivals like Microsoft and Google have failed.

The company’s Apple Health Records, which was launched early in 2018, looks to make medical records more easily accessible and portable for patients and has already attracted more than 130 health system partners.

Results from a small survey at UC San Diego has served to offer some initial proof points in the tech giant’s effort to boost the use of its portable record program and improve healthcare outcomes.

The organization was one of Apple’s initial healthcare partners who chose to integrate Apple Health Records into its patient portal, allowing patients to link their mobile devices to provider systems and share health record data and clinical information back and forth.

Researchers found that the initial reaction of patients’ ability to utilize and control Apple Health Records features were largely positive.

A short anonymous online survey sent to 425 Apple Health Record users tested the program’s effectiveness in three key areas: the ease of connecting a mobile device to the platform, satisfaction using the Apple Health Records and the improvement of understanding of one’s health or better sharing of health information with friends and family.

Nearly all (96 percent) respondents said it was easy to link their mobile device to the personal health record program and 90 percent said it facilitated better health information sharing and understanding of their health. A majority (78 percent) said that they were satisfied with using the feature.

Only 48 percent of respondents, however, reported improvement across all three of these metrics.

“As with many other new products and solutions, such enthusiasm is common from early adopters. The platform will need to prove that it is useful, sustainable, scalable, and actually improves health outcomes. The key questions are whether this personal health record will improve patient outcomes and lower costs while also increasing quality,” researchers wrote.

Researchers identified a few crucial technology developments that could drive the success of Apple Health Records, compared to abandoned earlier efforts like Microsoft’s HealthVault and Google Health.

Chief among these are the near-universal adoption of mobile technology (like the iPhone), advances in connected devices (like the Apple Watch) that can continuously monitor and collect health and biometric data and the introduction of new health data standards allowing for better sharing and connection with health system records.

Apple Health Records utilize the recently developed FHIR health data standard to connect and collect healthcare data.

While researchers cautioned it’s too early to surmise what exactly the future holds, continued technology development and digital health maturation support Apple’s stated ambition of pushing hard into healthcare.

“We are taking what has been with the institution and empowering the individual to manage their health. And we’re just at the front end of this,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

“But I do think, looking back, in the future, you will answer that question: Apple’s most important contribution to mankind has been in health.”

Photo: pepifoto, Getty Images