Health IT

Apple strikes deal with VA to provide personal health records to vets

Apple’s partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is an effort by the technology giant to push forward on its personal health record initiative with the largest integrated healthcare system in the country.

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The more than 9 million veterans who get healthcare through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will soon be able to securely access their health records on their iPhones with a few clicks of their device.

Apple’s partnership with the VA is an effort by the technology giant to push forward on its personal health record initiative with the largest integrated healthcare system in the country.

Starting in the summer, VA patients will have the ability to access their medical records through the Health Records app which will aggregate allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals.

After a participating veteran visits a VA health facility, updated health record information will be uploaded to the patient’s Apple device within 24 hours.

The application also integrates data from other providers who have agreed to share information with Apple, as well as metrics from wearables like the Apple Watch.

While these capabilities are only limited to Apple devices, the VA said it was looking at other potential partners to expand access to other mobile platforms

Apple’s Health Records is enabled by VA Health API, which was part of the organization’s Blue Button initiative to give veterans more control of their health and medical information and allow third-party developers to build applications to promote more effective use of that data.

“By building upon the Veterans Health API, we’re raising the bar in collaborating with private sector organizations to create and deploy innovative digital products for Veterans,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.

An early study of the effectiveness Apple Health Records at UC San Diego found that 90 percent of survey respondents said it facilitated better health information sharing and understanding of their health. Those positive results led the UC Health system to expand Apple Health Records access to its 5 million patients.

“When patients have better access to their health information, they have more productive conversations with their physicians,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said in a statement.

“By bringing Health Records on iPhone to VA patients, we hope veterans will experience improved healthcare that will enhance their lives.”

Apple Health Records launched in 2018 and follows in the vein of aborted earlier efforts by large technology companies like Google and Microsoft to create personal health records for patients.

However, experts have highlighted the ubiquity of mobile devices, growing presence of biometric sensors and increasing standardization of data sharing formats as drivers for Apple’s success in the field. In less than a year, Apple has already signed up more than 130 health systems as data-sharing partners.

Photo: pepifoto, Getty Images