Five years ago, Apple began a strong push into promoting digital health, wellbeing, and fitness when it debuted its HealthKit framework as part of iOS 8, alongside its own wearable fitness device, the Apple Watch. Since then, the company has been actively expanding its efforts to help promote better health and fitness through personal technology, hiring teams of doctors and other medical professionals, adding rudimentary ECG features to the Apple Watch that can notify users of serious and oft-undetected heart conditions, and turning the iPhone into a one-stop health hub where every aspect of a user’s personal wellness data can be collected and kept track of, most recently including the addition of Health Records.
Now, Apple will be expanding its Health Records feature to U.S. Veterans through the Veterans Health Administration — the largest medical system in the United States. In a news release, Apple notes that it is working directly with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow all veterans to securely view their aggregated health records directly through the iPhone’s Health app.
We have great admiration for veterans, and we’re proud to bring a solution like Health Records on iPhone to the veteran community. It’s truly an honor to contribute to the improved healthcare of America’s heroes.Apple CEO Tim Cook
The partnership with Veterans Affairs represents the first digital record-sharing platform to be adopted by the agency, which provides service to more than nine million veterans across 1,243 facilities, all of which will be expected to eventually come on board to support Apple’s Health Records.
Veterans will be able to see all of their medical information from the VA and other participating institutions organized into a single view in the Health app, providing data on allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures, vitals, and more. This will also be combined with other Health information that’s recorded in and tracked in the Health app, including Apple Watch data, providing veterans with a single, integrated snapshot of their entire health profile, all in one place.
Apple’s Health Records feature debuted last year in beta with the release of iOS 11.3, with 40 health systems on board at launch — a number that rapidly doubled to almost 80 by August, and has now grown to be available at over 200 institutions throughout the U.S. (although it has yet to launch in other countries). With the release of iOS 12, Apple also introduced an API for third-party developers to securely and privately interact with Health Records data to help monitor key aspects of a user’s health such as tracking medication, planning meals, managing diseases, and participating in medical research studies. Health Records integration allows for such benefits as automatically warning users of problematic drug interactions, and combining lab results with diet and exercise details to help users stay on track with managing conditions such as diabetes.
While this latest partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs represents the largest single expansion of Apple’s Health Records app, the company also continues to aggressively add new health care systems and facilities at a very rapid pace, with many hospitals and other medical providers expressing a great deal of enthusiasm and trust in Apple’s Health platform.