Apple's Health Records API is now open to developers. First announced in January, Apple has pitched the Health Records feature as a way to give consumers a hand-held electronic medical records (EMR) system that aggregates patient data into one view on the iPhone. ALSO SEE: Apple can win electronic medical record game with Health Records in iOS 11.3: Here's 7 reasons why With the API now available, the Cupertino tech giant said developers can build health apps with individualized experiences tailored to a user's health history across key categories, including medication tracking, disease management, nutrition planning and medical research. More than 500 hospitals and clinics are allowing patients to access their medical information through Apple's Health Records program. According to Apple, all health records data is encrypted on the iPhone and passcode protected.
When the University of Chicago Medical Center announced a partnership to share patient data with Google in 2017, the alliance was promoted as a way to unlock information trapped in electronic health records and improve predictive analysis in medicine. On Wednesday, the University of Chicago, the medical center and Google were sued in a potential class-action lawsuit accusing the hospital of sharing hundreds of thousands of patients' records with the technology giant without stripping identifiable date stamps or doctor's notes. The suit, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, demonstrates the difficulties technology companies face in handling health data as they forge ahead into one of the most promising -- and potentially lucrative -- areas of artificial intelligence: diagnosing medical problems. Google is at the forefront of an effort to build technology that can read electronic health records and help physicians identify medical conditions. But the effort requires machines to learn this skill by analyzing a vast array of old health records collected by hospitals and other medical institutions.
Paper health records and massive filing cabinets stuffed with patient files are a thing of the past. The advent of electronic health records has allowed doctors offices and hospitals to transition from keeping enormous warehouses of paper records to keeping all of their patient information in online servers that can be easily accessed by any connected device. It's not a perfect system -- EHR's can be difficult to access, and they don't provide network-wide connectivity because of security issues. However, they can allow doctors and specialists at outlying locations to access a patient's record without the necessity of getting copies or relying on outdated fax machines to provide necessary information.