A new application programming interface (API) for developers that will allow them to develop health apps that include patients’ EHR data has been launched by Apple. Users who share their EHR data into the Apple Health Records app will be able to distribute the data directly to third party applicationss.
This development permits app developers to being work on a wide range of apps that can help patients manage their care or treatment. The initial apps that will be allowed to download EHR data, if authorized by the patient, should be available towards the latter half of 2018 in line with the release of iOS 12.
One of these apps, that can be used in tandem with EHR data through the Apple Health Records app, is Medisafe. The Medisafe app gives patients of participating health systems the power to download their prescriptions lists and turn on alerts for reminders when their medications need to be administered. The app will also notify them to any possibly harmful interactions between their medications.
Apple is proposing that apps could be developed to assist patients manage their medical conditions. Access to EHR data will permit those apps to supply more accurate and useful recommendations.
Apps that assist patients with nutrition could prosper from access to blood sugar readings and cholesterol levels, and those give help with meal planning. The API will also assist users patients share their health data with researchers far more simply.
Apple will not be designated as a business associate as they are ensuring no protected health information passes through its servers. If patients opt to download information from their electronic health records into the Apple Health Records app, the data is passed from their supplier straight to their iPhone. No protected health information passes through Apple’s servers or is held by Apple. All EHR data obtained by the app are stored safely on the device and are encrypted. If the patient opts to permit third-party apps to have access to their data, that data will pass straight from their iPhone to the third-party app.
Clients who use the Apple Health Records App to view or save information from their EHRs should bear in mind that while data is safe on their device, that may not be the scenario with third-party apps.
While EHR data comes within the remit of HIPAA laws and must be safeguarded by patients’ healthcare providers, if the data is obtained and supplied to a third party, HIPAA Rules will not be relevant in relation to any transferred data.
Patients must carefully check the terms and conditions and privacy protections of any third-party app developer that they plan on using before sharing their health data to a third-party app.
Any developers that opt to use the new Health Records API should ensure privacy and security is built into the core of the design of their apps. While app developers may not be subject to HIPAA requirements, the data provided to the apps is highly sensitive and appropriate security controls should be used so that it remains confidential.