Health Records Firm Epic and About 60 Client Hospitals Object to Data Sharing Rules Supported by Apple

Health records firm Epic Systems and some 60 client hospitals are objecting to a proposed U.S. government policy that would make it easier for patients to share medical records data with apps, an initiative supported by Apple and other tech companies (via CNBC).


Proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2019, the modified data sharing rules would allow patients to share private clinical data from their healthcare providers and make it more accessible to health apps via APIs.

Currently, patients often have difficulty trying to obtain their information, with clinical data stored on physical media and processed through medical record software marketed to hospitals by the likes of Epic. According to one report, an Epic installation can cost upwards of $1 billion for a major health system to implement.

Yet in a letter to the HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Epic and signatories argue that the pending initiative on interoperability will be "overly burdensome on our health system and will endanger patient privacy."

Instead, Epic's letter recommends changes to the proposed rules, including extra clarity around health information related to family members and a longer timeline for the "development of new technology required by the rule," up from 1 year to 3 years.

"While we support HHS' goal of empowering patients with their health data and reducing costs through the 21st Century Cures Act, we are concerned that ONC's Proposed Rule on interoperability will be overly burdensome on our health system and will endanger patient privacy. Specifically, the scope of regulated data, the timeline for compliance, and the significant costs and penalties will make it extraordinarily difficult for us to comply."

A spokesperson for HHS told CNBC that it had received the letter. "We appreciate all stakeholder feedback as we continue to finalize the rules," they said. "Our ultimate goal is to ensure that patients are able to easily access their electronic medical records."

Some health IT experts told the news outlet that the letter has not been signed by some of the largest health systems in the Epic ecosystem, and called their absence "significant."

"Their absence represents a thundering silence," said David Brailer, the first National Health Information Technology Coordinator, appointed by George W. Bush. "Many health systems are quietly discussing how the data access and data fluidity actually benefits them in the long-run."

Apple, Microsoft and Google recently joined a call with non-profit Carin Alliance to discuss ways to get the rule finalized. As noted by CNBC, the tech firms favor the rules, partly because greater interoperability between systems that store medical records could help them move into the $3.5 trillion health care sector.

Apple has progressively worked to break into the health industry in recent years. At the beginning of 2018, the company 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.

By August of the same year, Apple's Health Records feature allowed iOS users to access their medical records from more than 75 different hospitals and medical providers in the United States.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
8 months ago
Epic! Sit down! Shut up!! Nobody likes you!
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago
Data is a jewel in the patient data industry. And the data companies don't want to share the wealth. Not for free, that is. Most large hospital systems (including the ones using EPIC, the largest company, I believe) have a means of giving the patient a data package in PDF format. This sounds like economic resistance to me.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago
The medical industry is scared of losing "customers". You can't make money with medication and surgeries to remedy long-term illnesses (which makes up the majority of their income) when many issues are detected early.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago


For crying out loud...This screams against all things HIPPA stood for!
Especially when data breaches are still common place.
Its no wonder these companies resist.

This has nothing to do with HIPPA. The patient can share whatever medical history of theirs they want.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago


For crying out loud...This screams against all things HIPPA stood for!
Especially when data breaches are still common place.
Its no wonder these companies resist.

Not really. HIPPA protects what others can do with your data. You have every right to your personal data and if you want to keep it stored locally or have it easily accessible, you have the right to do so. This is purely a money play and control play by Epic. If patients hold and maintain their own medical info, they are less reliant on doctors to pull it and send it to them. Trust me, this is a painful process. Consider a snowbird. They need their medical records easily accessible in two separate areas, most likely with health systems that are not connected. Waivers aside (which should not be required as you can share PHI between two Covered Entities without a contract for treatment, payment and healthcare operations), it should not take an act of congress to have one doctor share your health records with another.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
8 months ago
Epic is SKYNET. It made a few people in Madison billionaires, and created havoc, confusion and dismay among hospitals across the US.

I am a physician, and I still use paper charts. My colleagues envy me, and my patients love that I pay attention to them instead of a laptop.

If medical records are to be electronic, they need to be patient-centric; practitioners/providers/etc. should then be able to use a license to securely access the patient's database. Each entity having their own system that can't interact with each other is at best a disaster, a huge waste of time and money, and a major source of "physician burnout." I have seen electronic notes go on for 18 pages, crammed with utterly useless BS. My average office visit note is two pages, legible (using Dragon Dictate Medical for Mac- thanks for dropping support for that, Nuance!), and is quite comprehensive.

Hey Apple, I would love to consult with you....
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

Spotify Says Apple One Bundle Will Cause 'Irreparable Harm to Developer Community'

Tuesday September 15, 2020 12:26 pm PDT by
Apple today announced Apple One, a series of new subscription bundles that provide access to various Apple services at a combined monthly price. In response, Spotify sent out statements (via Peter Kafka) to the press decrying Apple's anti-competitive behavior and calling on "competition authorities" to stop Apple before it is able to cause "irreparable harm" to developers.Once again, Apple...

iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 Will Be Released September 16

Tuesday September 15, 2020 11:06 am PDT by
Apple today announced that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 will be officially released on Wednesday, September 16. Apple has seeded the final Golden Master beta versions of each update to developers in advance. ‌iOS 14‌ and iPadOS 14 introduce dozens of new features, including a redesigned Home Screen that supports widgets on the iPhone and iPad for the first time. For more...

New AirPods Pro Firmware Introduces Spatial Audio Support and Automatic Switching

Monday September 14, 2020 12:22 pm PDT by
The new 3A283 firmware that Apple released for the AirPods Pro today appears to introduce support for Spatial Audio, a new feature coming to the higher-end AirPods with iOS 14. Multiple reports on Twitter and the MacRumors forums indicate that the firmware update adds a "Spatial Audio" option to the Control Center, which can be activated to enable the feature. Note that using Spatial Audio...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Full Transcript of Apple's 'Time Flies' Event With Apple Watch and iPad Updates

Tuesday September 15, 2020 8:46 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Time Flies" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut new Apple Watch and iPad models, but it appears we may not see the iPhone 12 until next month. While we're not expecting to see new iPhones today, Apple's software updates for its various platforms are likely nearly ready for launch, so we may be hearing more about them today. Check...

Everything Apple Announced at Today's iPad and Apple Watch Event in Just Seven Minutes

Tuesday September 15, 2020 2:19 pm PDT by
Apple today held its annual September event, but this year was a bit different because no new iPhones were announced. The "Time Flies" event focused on the Apple Watch Series 6 and the iPad Air, and saw the debut of a new Apple One services bundle. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. It took Apple an hour to introduce the new devices, but we've recapped the event in...