How big tech is getting involved with EHR interoperability: 5 things to know 

Technology giants including Apple, Amazon and Google are just a few of many companies looking to capitalize on consumers' increasing demand for easier health records access, according to a Jan. 21 Business Insider and Kaiser Health News report. 

This demand for a freer exchange of health records and patient information has helped grow projections of the EHR market to reach $38 billion by 2025, according to the report. Large and small tech companies are leveraging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, the internet-based standard for storing and sharing patient data, to make accessing health information easier for consumers. 

Tech companies want to get involved with FHIR because the framework could eventually "give them paths to lucrative uses of data, including for personalized medicine, population health and medical genetics as well as in emerging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence," according to the report.

Here are five things to know about big tech's FHIR initiatives: 

1. Microsoft in November 2018 launched its FHIR server for Azure to help developers exchange and manage health data stored on the cloud platform.

2. Google teamed up with American Medical Association in July 2018 to improve health systems' FHIR coordination and develop methods to collect and manage patient-generated health data, according to the report.

3. In early 2018, Apple created its Health Records application, which uses FHIR to allow consumers to download their medical records data from their healthcare providers.

4. Amazon in November 2018 unveiled Amazon Comprehend Medical, which is a software that mines EHRs to help healthcare data specialists that use FHIR on its cloud platform Amazon Web Services.

5. Microsoft, Google Amazon, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce all teamed up to support FHIR through CMS' Blue Button project, which aims to make it easier for patients to access and download their medical records. 

While using FHIR can help increase consumers' access to their health information, some consumer advocates and privacy experts argue that patients' personal health data shared on the internet is vulnerable to being hacked and cybersecurity risks should be minimized before companies launch any widespread FHIR products, according to the report.

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