With new API, developers can access Apple Health Records data

By Jonah Comstock
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Apple has followed up on its launch of Apple Health Records at 39 health systems with the announcement today of a Health Records API, which will allow developers to create apps that can, with permission, use data from patients’ electronic health records to help people manage care, medications, nutrition, and more.

“Medical information may be the most important personal information to a consumer, and offering access to Health Records was the first step in empowering them. Now, with the potential of Health Records information paired with HealthKit data, patients are on the path to receiving a holistic view of their health,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “With the Health Records API open to our incredible community of developers and researchers, consumers can personalize their health needs with the apps they use every day.”

The first integration that’s been announced, for instance, is with medication tracking and adherence app Medisafe. Using the Health Records API, Medisafe users at participating health systems will now be able to import their prescription lists, making it easier to get started with the app, to set reminders, and to catch problematic drug-drug interactions.

Other use cases Apple offered up include disease management — a diabetes management app, for instance, could draw in patients’ lab data to better inform its recommendations — and nutrition, where access to cholesterol and blood pressure scores could help improve meal planning. Additional specific integrations have yet to be announced.

Finally, Apple sees potential for further improving medical research.

“With the new Health Records API, doctors can integrate patient medical data into their ResearchKit study apps for a more complete view of their participants’ health background,” Apple wrote in a release coinciding with its WWDC developer conference. “Traditionally, researchers used arduous survey questionnaires to determine pre-existing conditions, which puts the burden on the patient to remember the details. Now, with the participants’ approval, researchers can access that patient-specific information to ensure more comprehensive research. This integration continues Apple’s commitment to providing the medical community with ResearchKit tools that could further their discoveries.”

At the WWDC opening keynote yesterday, Apple mostly shied away from healthcare, but did include a number of fitness-related announcements around the Apple Watch. Further updates on HealthKit, ResearchKit, and CareKit are expected at future sessions.

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