The Next Frontier for Apple: Interoperability

Coming (most likely) soon to your iPhone: new tools for the coordination of clinical health data. As CNBC first reported, Apple’s developers are seeking to turn their signature mobile device into what they term “the central bank for health information.” What’s more, the developers are seeking to make it easier for patients to share that information, empowering them to better coordinate their own care. Currently, the company is “in talks with developers, hospitals and other industry groups about bringing clinical data, such as detailed lab results and allergy lists, to the iPhone, according to a half-dozen people familiar with the team,” CNBC’s Christina Farr explains. “And from there, users could choose to share it with third parties, like hospitals and health developers.”

The ability to coordinate clinical health data in a centralized location would take the iPhone beyond the capacity of its current health-related features. While its “Health Kit” enables patients to track everything from physical activity to sleep, and even allows them to input and track vital signs like blood pressure and blood glucose (usually measured through recommended compatible apps), the new features would take steps toward interoperability—long an elusive goal for many in the health care industry—by helping patients to share their health information among their various doctors and clinics, as is most people’s preference. “As health care goes digital, the promise has always been to give patients and the doctors they trust full access to their health information,” former United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra told CNBC. Facilitating the easy sharing of information among health care providers, he noted, can cut down on medical errors and incorrect diagnoses.

Apple, per CNBC, has been seeking feedback from health IT industry experts as they undertake their new project. Some of the company’s new hires also have a background in the development of electronic health records. (The company is being secretive about the project’s specifics, however, refusing to comment on the CNBC story.) At the same time, the task ahead of Apple isn’t necessarily going to be an easy one. CNBC notes that Google and Microsoft have both failed in their own efforts to promote interoperability. But experts who spoke to Farr are optimistic about Apple’s prospects, given the company’s track record. “If any company can figure out engagement, it’s Apple,” Micky Tripathi, who serves as president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, told CNBC. What’s more, Apple is already popular among health care providers (most, CNBC notes, already use iOS) and around the globe (there are currently more than one billion Apple devices in use), adding to the company’s advantages. Stay tuned for more details…

Click here to read the article from CNBC on Apple’s work toward interoperability.


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