Apple has periodically experimented with various products for the healthcare market because it accounts for such a large percentage of the economy. There even has been periodic speculation that the company thus might try to compete in the EHR space (see: Could Amazon or Apple actually make a dent in the EHR market?). Here's a quote from this article:
"It will be an uphill battle [for Apple in the EHR market], especially if they try to compete in the larger segments of the market," said Bryan Fiekers, Senior Director of Research Services at HIMSS Analytics.....John Moore, founder and managing partner of Chilmark Research, added that many enterprise technology titans have struggled to tackle the healthcare IT conundrum. “Think Microsoft, Google and IBM with very mixed success,” Moore said. ....It’s worth pausing to note that what has thus far been reported is based on unnamed sources — meaning neither Apple nor Amazon has formally revealed any intentions to build an EHR.
Now I turn to another recent article on a similar topic, which is to say speculation about whether Apple may be trying to turn its iPhone into a type of "companion" to a patient's medical record (see: Apple is quietly working on turning your iPhone into the one-stop shop for all your medical info). Below is an excerpt from it:
CNBC has learned that a secretive team within Apple's growing health unit has been 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. And from there, users could choose to share it with third parties, like hospitals and health developers.....Such a move would represent a deviation in strategy from Apple's previous efforts in health care, the people said, which have focused on fitness and wellness. Apple's HealthKit, for instance, is primarily used to store things like step counting and sleep. There's also a feature called "health records," which includes the option to import documents that include summaries of care, but that is a limited snapshot of medical information....
...[Patients] who do have access [to their EHRs] through so-called "patient portals" sometimes find that the user experience is poor and the information is limited. This problem is often referred to as the "interoperability crisis" — and it is hurting patients, health experts have said. The lack of data-sharing between health providers leads to unnecessary mistakes and missed diagnoses....As health care goes digital, the promise has always been to give patients and the doctors they trust full access to their health information.... Apple in recent months has been involved with discussions with health IT industry groups that are looking for ways to make this goal a reality....The company has also hired some of the top developers involved with FHIR, an increasingly popular protocol for exchanging electronic health records.
This discussion suggests that Apple may be considering the following idea: rather than replicate the EHR and compete with entrenched vendors like Epic and Cerner, it way want to develop an app for the iPhone that replicates, but improves, the patient portal (see, for example: Patients Often Lukewarm about Patient Portals; Problems with Training?). In this way, Apple will not be forced to compete directly with established EHR vendors for whom the patient portal has been a bit of an afterthought. The focus for EHR vendors remains on satisfying hospital executives, doctors, and nurses rather than patients. Apple also holds the advantage of being known and valued by consumers.
Another advantage held by the Apple is the ability to integrate and display data generated by health wearables (see: 39 essential fitness apps and devices that work with Apple Health). As noted above, the major challenge for Apple, if they wish to get into the patient portal business, will be obtaining access to hospital data from the health systems and their EHR vendors. This will partly be an interoperability problem (see, for example: Hospitals Need to Pressure Their EHR Vendors to Improve Software Functionality) but also a data access problem. However, much of patient care and health data will be moving in a centrifugal direction away from hospital control and hospital executives could do worse than collaborating with Apple.