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June 16, 2017

Apple wants you to store your entire medical history on your iPhone

by John_A

Why it matters to you

Having your own personal medical database on your smartphone could make receiving the proper care much, much easier.

Apple’s iOS Health app is mostly used for exercise and wellness monitoring and storing basic patient information in its current state. However, if a recent report is true, the company could be eyeing a massive shift with future versions of the app: full-on medical record-keeping and clinical data.

A handful of individuals with knowledge of the “secret” initiative inside the company have related to CNBC that Apple has been meeting with health care administrators and developers to build a system where users would be able to carry a complete copy of their medical history on their devices. Every blood test, prescription, diagnosis, or inoculation would be accounted for — empowering patients to easily and quickly share information between care providers.

Apple is reportedly looking to leverage its cloud storage capabilities and recent acquisitions of development talent in the health care space to make the project a reality. The company has hired top engineers and experts associated with the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources platform (FHIR), which is increasingly being used to exchange patient records.

Conquering the crisis of information sharing in the medical field would be a major boon to doctors and individuals alike, as a lack of data can lead to misdiagnoses and stalls in patient care. As it stands now, Apple’s Health software can be used to keep a snapshot of a person’s height, weight, and blood type as a sort of digital ID card, and import specific documents — though it can’t store much else.

There is no telling quite how much progress Apple has made in this project. It’s also worth stating that Google and Microsoft attempted similar programs years ago and ultimately failed. The difference is that many facilities already rely on iOS devices — so for them it shouldn’t require any new hardware or unfamiliar software.

Apple’s Health app was unveiled alongside iOS 8 in 2014, and already features a HealthKit API so third-party developers of fitness and wellness apps can make use of the data it collects.

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