Apple last week launched the health records feature within its Health app for users in Canada.

Women’s College Hospital, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, and Mackenzie Health are the first healthcare institutions in Canada to make this feature available to their patients. Use of Health Records will allow patients of the three hospitals to view and store the patient-generated and electronic medical records right on their iPhone. Apple says more medical facilities will connect to Health Records and offer their patients access to this feature in the coming months.

“We designed Health Records on iPhone to empower people to easily view their health records at any time, and we are thrilled to put this feature in the hands of customers in the UK and Canada,” said Kevin Lynch, Apple’s vice president of Technology, in a recent press release. “We believe people should have access to their health information in the most private and secure way, and we have worked hand in hand with healthcare institutions and organizations to put privacy at the centre of the patient experience.” 

The medical records of most patients in Canada are usually held in multiple locations, requiring patients to log in to each healthcare provider’s website to piece together their health information manually. Health Records creates a direct connection between medical institutions and a patient’s iPhone, allowing users to see a central view of their allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures, and vitals across multiple institutions, and to be notified when their data is updated.

The privacy of the users will be protected at all times as per Apple, but patients who elect to use health records on iPhone do so at their own risk, says Dr. Dan Perri, chief medical information officer for St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton.

While Health Records on iPhone security features have been reviewed by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, the feature is a separate platform from the hospital’s digital medical records platform, MyDovetale,” said Dr. Perry in an interview with IT Business Canada. 

By integrating Health Records on iPhone with MyDovetale, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s digital patient portal, the healthcare institution says it will be able to give patients an additional platform that they can use to access their health records from their hospital, says Perri. “Patients can collate health information from different medical providers with health data that they collect themselves, and can conveniently show that information to their caregivers and care teams using the health records on the iPhone feature of the Health app. This, quite literally, puts the patient’s available health records data in their hands and encourages shared and informed clinical decisions.”

Health Records was designed to protect patients’ privacy at all times by utilizing a direct, encrypted connection between the user’s iPhone and the healthcare organization. In addition, all Health Records data is encrypted on-device and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID. Apple says it worked closely with Epic and Allscripts to enable the FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standards-based integration with the Health app for their Canadian customers. 

Mackenzie Health has been expanding its offerings for its MyChart patient portal to make virtual care more accessible while keeping it secure, and Apple Health Records is another layer to that expansion, says Dr. Aviv Gladman, chief information officer, Mackenzie Health.

“Apple is building an ecosystem of health products or health applications, and the advantage for end-users of that ecosystem is the ability to bring their data in from different sources,” said Gladman in an interview with the publication. “We are proud to announce that we are now able to connect in securely with Apple Health Records so that patients can bring their data into the Apple Health ecosystem.” 

Healthcare institutions interested in having their healthcare organization listed in the Health Records directory in the Health app can apply here. The company does not charge institutions any fees for registration or to maintain a connection.

The feature is available to healthcare institutions in Canada, the UK and U.S. only.

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