I have previously commented on the Apple plans to provide access by consumers to their hospital EHR data via iPhones was well as other Big Tech initiatives in healthcare (see: Apple Has Plans to Copy EHR Records to iPhones and Apple Watches; What Are the Consequences of Big Tech Entering the Healthcare Market?). In this latter note, I had this to say:
Many of Big Tech's initiatives in the healthcare market in the past have failed or been disappointing....There is no question that the equity deals will continue....We all know that healthcare organizations are sitting on a mountain of data but the leadership has little understanding about how to capitalize on this advantage. They certainly know enough to lobby against patients' access to it... However, hospital executives need the expertise of Silicon Valley in order to pursue clinical analytics projects involving big data and deep learning.
Despite some past failures of Big Tech projects in healthcare, I am sure that they will continue. Most hospitals lack the expertise to capitalize on the mountain of valuable data that they control. With regard to the Apple EHR/iPhone project, recent articles suggest some momentum has been achieved in terms of having hospitals participate (see: Apple’s Health app can now display medical records from 39 health systems). Below is an excerpt from the article:
Apple iPhone users at more than 100 hospitals and clinics in the US can now access parts of their medical records through the Health app....The Health Records section of the app debuted in January with the iOS 11.3 beta, and today’s update makes it available to everyone who updates their phone to the latest version. The medical information...will be available to iPhone users who are patients at 39 health systems that are working with Apple, including Stanford Medicine and Johns Hopkins....Providing patients with a way to easily see their medical records gives them somewhat better control over their health information, which can stay stuck in the silos of individual health systems. Some healthcare groups...already offer patients a way to look at their medical records from their mobile devices or desktop. The idea here with Apple is that multiple systems are collected into a single app.
I personally don't believe that this new iPhone/EHR project will be successful initially. Part of my pessimism is based on the spotty history of the use of patient portals (see: UPMC Deploys Its Patient Portal on iPhones and iPads; Patients Often Lukewarm about Patient Portals; Problems with Training?). One could make the argument that patient portals have lacked the information that patients were seeking or that the patient portal UIs (user interfaces) were not well designed. However, I firmly believe that a high percentage of patients very much like reviewing their lab tests and radiology reports but don't really have much interest in digging too much deeper in their hospital records. What is most encouraging about this Apple news is that a large number of prestigious hospitals have agreed to participate. The value of access to the EHR does not lie in what health data is accessible on "Day One" but rather the potential for the type of services that will be subsequently available. Once EHR data can be viewed by mobile phones, it can be "digested" using AI tools in the cloud to present to consumers useful information that can be generated such as abnormal lab tests that have not been acted on or drug prescriptions that have not been refilled or vaccinations that are due.