Apple has announced that in spring 2018 they will release the Health Records API for developers and researchers to create an ecosystem of apps that use health record data to better manage medications, nutrition plans, diagnosed diseases and more.

Apple announced Apple Health Records earlier this year as a feature in their Health app. The feature allows patients of more than 500 hospitals and clinics in the US to access medical information from various institutions organised into one view on their iPhone.

“Medical information may be the most important personal information to a consumer, and offering access to Health Records was the first step in empowering them. Now, with the potential of Health Records information paired with HealthKit data, patients are on the path to receiving a holistic view of their health,” said Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Williams.

“With the Health Records API open to our incredible community of developers and researchers, consumers can personalise their health needs with the apps they use every day,” continued Williams.

Health Records data is encrypted on iPhone and protected with the consumer’s iPhone passcode. When consumers choose to share their health record data with trusted apps, the data flows directly from HealthKit to the third-party app and is not sent to Apple’s servers.

Developers building health apps will be able to use the Health Records API to individualise experiences, with the user’s permission, based on the user’s unique health history across key categories, including medication tracking, disease management, nutrition planning and medical research.

For example, Medisafe, a medication management app, will connect with the Health Records feature so consumers can easily import their prescription list without manual entry, quickly enabling pill reminders and allowing the user to receive relevant medication information. Medisafe will be able to warn patients of problematic drug-drug interactions because they have the comprehensive view of the patient’s exact medication list from several hospitals and clinics.

With disease management, a diabetes app could access a patient’s lab results from their Health Records as well as their diet and exercise details through the existing iOS HealthKit integration, allowing for a more complete picture of the consumer and the best ways to encourage them to stay on track.

For nutrition planning, a healthy eating app could offer consumers tailored programmes based on their high blood pressure or cholesterol results by serving up low salt or high fibre meal plans.

And lastly for medical research, with the new Health Records API doctors can integrate patient medical data into their ResearchKit study apps for a more complete view of their participants’ health background. Traditionally, researchers used arduous survey questionnaires to determine pre-existing conditions, which puts the burden on the patient to remember the details. Now, with the participants’ approval, researchers can access that patient-specific information to ensure more comprehensive research.

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