Viewpoint: When it costs $500 to get your medical records, Apple has a real chance to upend the industry

Apple's potential to disrupt the medical records industry became more realistic after a Government Accountability Office probe highlighted the costly and complex barriers to obtaining patient health data, according to an analysis by CNBC news associate Anita Balakrishnan.

The GAO found the fees patients are charged to obtain their health records varied across states, with some patients paying more than $500 for a single record request, while others were "directed to pay an annual subscription fee" for access.

But Apple's new health records app, announced in January, could change the game.  

"Apple is setting out to break down the walls that separate the many silos where medical data is stored and has developed a standard that's been adopted by several big companies so they can transfer records across disparate systems," Ms. Balakrishnan wrote, explaining Apple's goal is to create a digital hub for patients' health information that is "similar to how iTunes centralizes your music."

The tech company partnered with major health systems — including Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine — and worked with EHR vendors to put patients' health data on their iPhones. Early results have been promising, according to a KLAS Research report.

When patients truly own and control their health data, the barriers to access are eliminated and Apple could be the first company to break down those walls.

More articles on EHRs:
Democrats demand VA fire acting CIO, citing 'malign neglect' on EHR project
Contractors bash firm hired to help with Mayo's Epic implementation
DOD's EHR isn't 'operationally suitable,' Pentagon report finds

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