Electronic Health Records

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Cerner, athenahealth work on EHR integration with HealthKit

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

While Apple is openly denying claims of physical flaws one of its new products (#bendgate), it is playing things close to the vest regarding its partnership with EHR companies not named Epic Systems for integration with the newly unveiled HealthKit.

A Reuters report revealed that two other leading EHR providers — the Massachusetts- and Missouri-based athenahealth and Cerner, respectively — were actively working on integrating their platforms with the mobile health service in iOS 8.

“Athenahealth vice president Abbe Don said the company will use HealthKit to help patients with chronic conditions like diabetes. Cerner senior director Brian Carter said care teams, including doctors and nurses, will be able to access data from HealthKit with patients’ consent,” the report states.

As for next steps, Cerner is reportedly going to engage smaller organizations in proving the usefulness of the service to managing chronic diseases more proactively while athenahealth has turned to one of its clients, New York’s Hudson Headwaters Health Network, to prove its concept for HealthKit integrations.

In June, news first emerged that Epic and Mayo Clinic were partnering with Apple on its mobile health technology offering. According to David Carr of InformationWeek, neither the Wisconsin-based EHR company nor Apple said little at the time about what their partnership would entail. Mayo Clinic, however, addressed how the HealthKit could make a real impact on care delivery.

“Our doctors can pull the vital numbers they need into the electronic medical record as a permanent catalog, and intervene if they need to,” Wald explained. “We can keep patients at home or pull them back into the hospital if we need to interact with them sooner.”

With the recent release of iOS 8, more details about Epic’s plans began to surface.

“Apple’s HealthKit has tremendous potential to help close the gap between consumer collected data and data collected in traditional healthcare settings,” the company’s President Carl Dvorak told VentureBeat. “The Epic customer community, which provides care to over 170 million patients a year, will be able to use HealthKit through Epic’s MyChart application — the most used patient portal in the US.”

Prior to new operating system and suite of applications becoming available to the public, doubts about the security and privacy of information contained in HealthKit were already being raised, especially given purported vulnerabilities in Apple’s cloud storage solution iCloud that was allegedly breached to access the private accounts of several celebrities. While possible it would be unlikely that an application held to a higher standard, namely HIPAA, would be as easily accessible to hackers, says Dan Diamond of Forbes.

Still, it is too early to tell what the impact these EHR vendor partnerships with Apple on HealthKit will have on healthcare providers and patients. So far, as with most Apple unveils it is mostly talk.




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