Apple will make health record data available to third-party apps on iOS devices, beginning this fall. The data, which will require user permission to access, will be kept private and entirely off of Apple's servers. But it could dramatically expand usefulness of health-focused apps on the platform.
Earlier this year, Apple launched a Health Records service to increase the portability of health records and make them available across participating hospitals and clinics. The idea was to allow patients to download their health records to iOS devices and then easily share them with other practitioners.
The new Health Records API would allow certain parts of user health records to be accessed by apps, with data flowing directly from iPhones and iPads to the apps, with no user health data ever flowing to Apple's servers.
Apple listed a number of examples for this service, showcasing the potential for the iPhone to literally save lives — something that Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly referred to in the past.
- Medisafe, which helps users remember when to take their medication, will connect with Health Records so user's prescription drugs can be transferred to the app without manual entry. This will make creating medication reminders easier, and could warn patients of drug interactions because the entire medication roster will (theoretically) be listed in-app.
- Diabetes-management apps could access lab results and combine them with eating and exercise data to help users better manage their disease.
- A healthy eating app could custom-design meal plans based on cholesterol or blood pressure data.
- "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 has been working for years to better organize health data and to assist users in being healthier. Tim Cook, a fitness and health enthusiast himself, has discussed the potential of Apple's devices to help users get healthier on numerous occasions — and Apple's own health-focused aspirations have been documented for more than a half-decade.