Apple set to support patient access to health data in upcoming meeting

Apple's Health app icon

Health is a major focal point for Apple these days, and it will continue to be into the future. As such, the company is getting more vocal in that area.

Take, for example, an upcoming meeting set to take place today, on Monday, January 27, that’s designed to help push through a policy change that will let consumers gain access to their health data “without further delay” (via CNBC). The meeting is being hosted by a group that is supporting the Department of Health and Human Services.

The nonpartisan Carin Alliance, which describes its focus as “advancing consumer-directed exchange in health care,” posted the attendee list and talking points on its website on Friday. More than 40 people representing some of the biggest companies in the industry are planning to attend, either in person or by phone, according to the list.

They’ll be meeting as part of an effort to push through a rule change proposed by HHS in 2019 to promote medical data interoperability. The proposal has been in a public comment period, with backers hoping it will be finalized in the coming weeks.

Apple is not the only company taking part in the meeting. According to the report, Microsoft will have a representative taking part in the meeting as well. Meanwhile, Google won’t be joining the meeting, but a company rep said they are generally in favor of more openness in this case.

The gist here: to make it easier for people to access their health data. In its current state it’s technically possible to get that information, but it’s typically still delivered in relatively ancient means: CD-ROM and/or over fax. However, some patients are still denied access to their health data. That can restrict patient movement between doctors and facilities, so some want that information more readily available. Apple appears to be a huge company that wants to make it easier for patients to gain access to their health information.

Apple declined to comment on the meeting and Microsoft said in an email that it is ‘actively engaged with Carin to provide technical advice and guidance on data architectures and standards.’

The biggest sticking point for the movement is Epic Systems, which Peter wrote about in an editorial over the weekend. Epic Systems opposes legislation that would make patient health information more readily available, arguing, in part, that it would impact patient privacy.

There’s no way of knowing how the planned legislation will proceed at this point. But there are a lot of entities backing the idea, including Blue Shield of California, Humana, Walgreens, and more.

Peter argues that health data should be more readily available. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below if you think Apple’s on the right side of this.