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The VA + Apple Health (Future Ear Daily Update 11-6-19)

11-6-19 - The VA + Apple Health

Yesterday, I wrote about the new SonicCloud integration with Apple Health that will allow SonicCloud users to import their audiograms housed in Apple Health directly into the SonicCloud app. Today, Apple announced another Apple Health development that will allow for veterans to access all their health records through Apple Health. In the press release issued by Apple, the company described the integration as such:

“By signing into their providers’ patient portals in the Health app, veterans can see all of their health records in one place, including medications, immunizations, lab results and more. The Health app continually updates these records giving VA patients access to a single, integrated snapshot of their health profile whenever they want, quickly and privately.”

Apple Health continues to grow into what’s becoming a single repository for one’s healthcare data. Apple is taking a multi-pronged approach to become said repository. One prong represents the company accruing a growing list of healthcare institutions that support Apple Health by feeding their electronic health records (EHR) into the app. Given the sensitivity of the data, privacy and data encryption needs to be an upmost priority. I believe the underlying reason Apple is leaning so heavily into privacy is tied to its healthcare ambitions. Apple wants to ensure iOS users feel comfortable with Apple housing so much sensitive data.

Image result for apple privacy logo
Multiple Apple commercials now feature a revised Apple logo at the end of the commercial that resembles a lock.

The next prong relates to the type of data that can be fed into Apple Health. This is particularly important to the world of wearables, hearables and Bluetooth hearing aids that are increasingly becoming outfitted with biometric sensors. The vision is that biometric data, whether it’s collected from Apple devices or (eventually) approved third party wearable devices, will sit side-by-side to the various EHR’s, immunizations, lab results, medications, etc.

These, “Biometric data collectors,” will be a critical part of the broader health repository Apple is building toward because they represent the type of tool required to gather real-time, longitudinal health data. That data allows for a much more comprehensive and useful health profile for each user.  Rather than recording this type of data during your periodic physician appointments (once, maybe twice per year?), biometric data recorders (i.e. hearing aids, hearables, wearables) can be logging this type of data every few minutes on the hour.

The last prong represents what third party apps can do with all the information being stored in Apple Health. SonicCloud’s audiogram importing feature is a perfect example of this, as SonicCloud was able to integrate with Apple Health using one of the software development kit API’s to facilitate the data transfer between the two. You can imagine down the line, that this will expand much more broadly into all types of different applications that allow for the user to better understand, use and ultimately manage their healthcare data.

Today’s development serves as another step toward this vision becoming realized as 9 million veterans will now be able to rely on Apple Health as their main repository for their health records. This should just further incentivize more healthcare institutions to get on board, encourage Apple to open up the ability for approved third party wearables (the VA is the largest dispenser of hearing aids) to feed their data into Apple Health, and then finally, more incentive for developers to build apps specifically designed around Apple Health.

-Thanks for Reading-


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