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Readers Write: Sharing Your Medical Info with Providers from your iPhone – What You Need to Know About Apple Health, Patient Records, and Better Visibility into Patient Data

August 25, 2021 Readers Write No Comments

Sharing Your Medical Info with Providers from your iPhone – What You Need to Know About Apple Health, Patient Records, and Better Visibility into Patient Data
By Daniel Kivatinos

Daniel Kivatinos, MS is co-founder and COO of DrChrono of Sunnyvale, CA.


Apple’s announcement of their new iOS15 feature demonstrates a major step forward in giving patients better control of their own health data in a more seamless, straightforward way. Coming this fall, this update will allow patients to share health app data with providers.

For background, here’s how it will work. When choosing to share health information from their iPhone, the patient’s care team will be able to view the information within the medical record patient chart from the electronic health record (EHR) software. Patients can share a range of information, including physical activity, heart rate, cycle tracking, sleep, irregular rhythm notifications, and falls, as well as certain health record categories like labs and immunizations.

As we move into a new world of digital health, we are tracking more data than ever, and an ever-present question is whether or not physicians will be able to aggregate and use all of this information. With new features like Apple’s, medical care teams have easy access to a more holistic view of their patients’ health information. For example, providers will not only be able to see a patient’s lab results, but their workouts, food tracking, genomics, and more should they opt to share that information.

The overload of data is an understandable concern, and some healthcare professionals wonder whether or not this onslaught of information will only overwhelm practitioners. But the issue isn’t about the amount of data we have around a patient. Rather, it is about having access to the precise information that is best needed for the medical care team, patient, and family members.

While more data is better when it comes to giving precise care, what technology companies must do is work toward ways to better present, manage, and interpret the data in ways that help providers at the point of care. There is only so much time with a patient during a visit, and the data that is reviewed needs to be relevant and clear to understand. As a point of comparison, regardless of what you may think about the Robinhood investment app, they have succeeded at presenting data in a quick, simple way for investors.

Over time in the healthcare industry, insights gleaned from machine learning will be increasingly accurate for care teams. If the technology is leveraged correctly, the most important data trends that need to be shared won’t be lost in the shuffle, and machine learning assistants will eventually become more useful and relevant for providers.

After all, it is better to have 40 years of data on a patient bubble up or emerge with contextual information when needed than not. For example, a 12-year-old patient gets stung by a bee and the provider notes in their chart that the child is allergic to bee stings. Later in life, the patient may not recall this event, but this data should still be available to the care team and patient in their electronic medical chart. With the right user interface, this data will be useful, rather than a nuisance, to a busy provider.

Thankfully, machine learning continues to improve. Think of it as a co-pilot with the provider driving the patient experience and ultimately determining what to do, but with machine learning also helping in giving indications and insights about a specific patient and their needs. The patient’s numerous health factors are always evolving, but understanding more clearly a patient’s overall wellness, genomics, and labs are all critical to giving a precise prescription.

Patients on Medicaid and Medicare with multiple comorbidities would benefit the most from sharing their daily data with a physician, and patients have more access to better devices at a cheaper cost every year. As Moore’s law states, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years. What this means is that as the cost to buy an iPhone is going down, you are getting more for your money. Through hard work across engineering, technology is getting better and better to the point where patients will be able to get more data over time at a cheaper cost. This not only applies to phones, but wearables and all consumer health tech products.

We are also witnessing a renaissance taking place in healthcare data exchange through FHIR and other modern APIs. This is a game changer in the industry and one to keep an eye on. I am excited to see what Apple and other digital health companies do in the future, as Apple’s latest iOS feature is a massive milestone and a bright future for healthcare.

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