Military veterans’ health records may be included in the iOS Health app

Apple is in discussions with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide portable electronic health records to military veterans, “a partnership that would simplify patients’ hospital visits and allow the technology giant to tap millions of new customers,” reports The Wall Street Journal, quoting unnamed “people familiar with the effort and emails reviewed.”

If the plans materialize, the tech giant Apple would create special software tools allowing the VA’s estimated nine million veterans currently enrolled in the system to transfer their health records to the iPhone — probably in the Health Records feature introduced with iOS 11.3. This move would be a major coup for Apple in its (apparent) efforts to crack the U.S. healthcare market.

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The Health Records section within the Health app brings together hospitals, clinics and the existing Health app to make it easy for consumers to see their available medical data from multiple providers whenever they choose. Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine and other participating hospitals and clinics are among the first to make this beta feature available to their patients.

In the past, patients’ medical records were held in multiple locations, requiring patients to log into each care provider’s website and piece together the information manually. Apple COO Jeff Williams says Apple worked with the healthcare community to take a consumer-friendly approach, creating Health Records based on FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), a standard for transferring electronic medical records.

Now, consumers will have medical information from various institutions organized into one view covering allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals, and will receive notifications when their data is updated. Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode.