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Apple’s hush-hush foray into personal health records

Apple’s hush-hush foray into personal health records

After the high-profile failures of Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, can tech titan Apple find a way to centralize personal health data, and could it solve medicine’s interoperability problem?

CNBC reports that Apple is working in secret to develop a way to store not just wellness info like step counts and emergency contacts, but clinical information on an iPhone; sort of like personal EHR in your pocket.

Some believe the company, who revolutionized the music industry, could do the same for healthcare. And Apple is confident too with a slew of recent hires and has apparently been in talks with hospitals and industry groups. Details are sparse and mostly rumors at this point, as is usually the case with Apple.

Many apps and devices hold a lot of information for specific conditions, Q Heart for hypertension and GKC’s Personal KinetiGraph for Parkinson’s are some good examples. And many of those types of medical apps have fared well.

What’s been more challenging is the development of a single, unified personal health record that can capture it all –  medications, diagnosis history, lab results, and so on. There are many reasons for that, most notably the fragmentation of health IT in general. Where many prior platforms have failed is that they were cumbersome to use and could only capture fragments of health data.

Apple is reportedly working with partners focused on working around those barriers. And they may find some help with recent legislation mandating, among other things, some degree of interoperability in EHRs and other health data systems. They also have an advantage with an existing health data management infrastructure on their devices with the Health app as well as HealthKit and CareKit.

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