Geisinger, Dignity Health among first hospitals to pilot Apple's medical records system

Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System, San Francisco-based Dignity Health and Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine will be among the first 12 hospitals nationwide to pilot Apple's medical records system, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Here are six things to know about the pilot program.

1. Apple announced its intent Jan. 24 to integrate patient health records into its Health app to make it easier for consumers to review their medical data. IPhone users would need to download the 11.3 "beta" version of iOS to access the feature, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

2. While many hospitals and health systems already provide patient portals and other programs for patients to access their health information, Apple aims to embed patient data from multiple providers into the iPhone's main system. This "deep integration" function could help improve smartphone users' health by allowing patients to grant permission for other app developers to use the data to help provide the best deals on medications and connect patients taking the same medications, among other features, the report states.

3. Because the health records are stored on the patient's device, users can send that information to any provider they choose — even those whose EHR systems are not directly compatible with the system the patient's primary provider uses, according to Cheryl Pegus, MD, director of the division of general internal medicine and clinical innovation at the New York City-based NYU School of Medicine.

4. The challenge Apple and other tech companies with similar aspirations face, according to Dr. Pegus, is designing systems that do not inundate patients with irrelevant information.

"The key is to find a way to utilize this health data where someone puts in the right algorithms that really cause the most relevant data to bubble to the top so then you can message it how you want to. If that can happen, that's going to be a great use," Dr. Pegus said.

5. It is unclear if Apple's medical records system will be able to synchronize physicians' notes, the report states. The health records data will reside on Apple servers unless a patient's phone automatically backs up the data to the company's iCloud service.

6. Other hospitals involved in the pilot program include Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center; Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; and Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine.

To view the full list of participants, click here.

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