Carrying a smartphone or wearing a fitness tracker has allowed millions of people to track their steps, heart rate, calories, and more. The opportunities for this data to be used between doctors and patients is growing with new technological developments. In a perfect world, that information could even be sent to your doctor, making your appointments more effective and efficient.
That perfect world isn’t too far away with the recent release of Apple iOS 10. Previously, you had the ability to export health data captured in your phone, but it wasn’t very clear whom you would send this this to and how.
Apple will be releasing the groundwork to allow its users to more easily send and receive information from their iPhones to their doctors' electronic health records. This type of transfer of information between providers and patients will empower and engage patients in a kind of way we haven’t seen before. Apple plans to do this through their HealthKit functionality, which all iPhones already have. HealthKit is a set of services that enable application and device developers to securely measure, manage, and store health and fitness data. HealthKit also allows data from physical devices to be incorporated, so your FitBit or Apple Watch's data can be sent to your doctor. After you visit your provider, they can add any updates and send you your updated medical record which you can take with you.
Patients will also have the ability to receive their medical records on their iPhones. Currently, patient access to their own medical records is a hotbed issue due to the fact that so many patients lack access to begin with. Apple’s new functionality will empower and engage patients across the country. You might be wondering how Apple’s HealthKit will be able to send this information back and forth from the doctor’s EHR to the patient’s iPhone: It is through Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) and Continuity of Care Documents (CCD), which are now supported by HealthKit. When you look at a raw CDA or CCD document, the data probably doesn't make sense to most people. But when health documents are sent in the format of a CDA or CCD, they can now be received by HealthKit and then converted into readable data via your EHR’s mobile app.
This type of technology will allow patients to play a bigger part in their own care team, and more specifically, own their health information. While this is an exciting step in the right direction, patients will still need a secure way to actually send and receive sensitive the health information. Doctors will not be able to simply send you a text with your health record or vice versa. There needs to be a tool allowing you to communicate directly with your providers.
pMD is developing a secure text messaging feature that allows its physician users to safely and easily communicate with their patients. This can complete the missing piece to the puzzle, allowing patients to freely request and receive their health data and become more engaged in their health care. Stay tuned for more updates from pMD!