iOS 15 gives doctors insight into Apple Health app data

With the launch of iOS 15 today, some iPhone users have the option to share data from their Health app directly with their doctors through their electronic health records. Six medical records companies are participating in the initial launch, with some of those companies saying doctors and medical practices are eager to start using the feature on their systems.

People who use the option can use the new sharing feature on the Health app to show their doctor data such as their heart rate and time spent exercising, as collected through the Health app. It could help physicians better monitor metrics that may be relevant to a patient’s health, without the patient having to take an extra step to manually share the information.

Cerner electronic health record, which controls a quarter of the record market, is one of the companies in the launch. Right now, all healthcare organizations using Cerner’s data must find a balance between the time spent implementing new tools and the time spent managing COVID-19 spikes, said Sam Lambson, vice president. interoperability at the company, in an email to The edge. But they are interested in the position, he says. “Once our customer organizations see and understand a demo, the questions are mostly about how quickly they can implement it,” Lambson said.

A small number of healthcare groups using electronic health records through Allscripts, which is also part of the launch, have already used the feature as part of a testing phase, said Tina Joros, the company’s general manager and vice president. They can use it on a select number of patients. “They have all the technology in-house and when it’s available to patients, they can start promoting it to their patient population,” she says.

One of those test groups is especially excited about the new possibility to see patient data from a blood pressure monitor at home, says Joros. The doctors at that medical practice typically recommend a particular brand of blood pressure cuff to patients who want to check them between visits. That cuff already syncs with the Health app. So if patients choose to share the data, the doctors can track those blood pressure readings directly instead of relying on patients to share them more manually. “It really helps to get the data around,” she says.

Daniel Kivatinos, co-founder and chief operating officer of health record company DrChrono, says he’s heard similar feedback from healthcare providers about the Health app feature. “One of our customers, the supplier, is delighted to be able to do remote patient monitoring,” he says.

While the data from wearable devices and other health apps can be helpful, doctors often say they are concerned about information overload. Joros of Allscripts says the dashboard layout in Apple’s health record can help make the flow of information less overwhelming. The default is to provide a general overview of the trends in a patient’s Health app. Doctors have the ability to see more details, but they don’t have to. “We’ve had a good response from both our customer testers and our in-house physicians,” she says. “Both loved the way those dashboards were laid out to reduce that burden.”

DrChrono plans to roll out the Health app feature to an initial group of first-time users before gradually expanding to its entire customer base, which includes approximately 4,000 medical practices. The company can track how often the feature is used, and Kivatinos says it plans to collect data on how many patients end up sharing their Health app information in the health record.

Allscripts plans to collect similar data as well. The company can see exactly how many patients are using the feature, says Joros. She expects usage to gradually increase in the same way as Apple’s other health records program, launched in 2018, that allows patients to pull data from their health records to their iPhones. “We’ve seen usage rise constantly,” she says.