Military veterans treated by the US Department of Veterans Affairs will soon be able to access their medical records on the iPhone Health Records app, Apple announced yesterday. It’s the latest major collaboration between Apple and a health care system, and a sign of the company’s growing interest in the world of electronic health records.
Electronic health records are a famously contentious sector of the health care system. For many patients, the tangled evolution of e-health technology has led to a fragmented paper trail filled with gaps, which makes it hard to bring their own health information from one network to another and can slow down their treatment. The new collaboration would allow the 9 million veterans served by the VA, which is the largest medical system in the country, to see their aggregated medical records — including conditions, vaccinations, lab tests, medical procedures, and diagnoses — in one place.
The long-rumored VA collaboration continues Apple’s efforts to partner with as many institutions as possible. Last March, Apple announced that users would be able to access records from over 100 hospitals in 39 health care systems through its app. According to aWall Street Journal report from November, the eventual goal might be for patients to share their data with other health apps that can provide services like prescription refills and then give Apple a cut of the profit.
Apple isn’t the only company interested in health records. Amazon recently announced that it will start selling software that can read medical records and make suggestions for improving treatment or saving money. And Google applied for a patent for a system that uses artificial intelligence trained on electronic health records to build models that could warn doctors of dangerous medical events.