Apple has long been thought to be entering the health market in the long term, so the first steps towards this have been revealed in the beta of iOS 11.3. The feature will be available to iPhone and Apple Watch users when the update is rolled out later this year.
Healthcare providers work with third parties who maintain software that contains medical records. Apple has entered into partnership with these companies to allow their software to be integrated into their health app. The hospitals that use this system will be allowing an opt-in from Apple users so that they can use their records on their devices.
Once this is set up, the records are synced into categories:
- Clinical visits
- Lab Results
When your records are updated they will be updated on your phone, sending you push notifications that they been updated. The data will be encrypted and only accessible via passcode, Touch ID or Face ID.
Why does this matter?
Medical records have long been a point of failure in medical systems. The availability and consistency of medical records have long been a point of failure. Having a way to easily view your records could radically change how people think about their medical records and how to access them.
Apple claims that this system will make records easier to understand, so not only can you see the records, but understand them in a simpler way. For example, your cholesterol numbers will be shown in the context of averages and normal readings, so you know exactly where you stand
When will we be able to try it?
The records will only be available to people who are patients at one of the 12 hospital groups that Apple are working with. Apple claims they will be rolling it out further as more hospital chains team up with the tech giant. Roll out is probably going to move quite slowly for the first few years, but in time I see this becoming a very useful feature.
Rumours of Apple hospitals were laughed at in times gone by but given their rumoured expansion into cars and more I wouldn’t rule out Apple becoming a major healthcare provider.