Apple’s HealthKit will integrate with Epic’s MyChart app patient portal allowing patients access to their health information according to Epic’s president Carl Dvorak, VentureBeat reports.
“Apple’s HealthKit has tremendous potential to help close the gap between consumer collected data and data collected in traditional healthcare settings. 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 U.S,” said Dvorak in an email to VentureBeat
The MyChart app gives patients controlled access to the same Epic medical records their doctors use, via browser or mobile app. Patients can access their lab results, appointment information, current medications, immunization history, and more to improve their own health.
HealthKit Integration with Epic MyChart Details
Epic’s EHR will access HealthKit data from the MyChart app, not via direct integration with HealthKit platform to avoid potential HIPAA regulatory and privacy issues (Sullivan, VentureBeat, 9/17/14). Using the Withings Scale app as an example, Epic spokesman Brian Spranger stated:
“A consumer health app, like the Withings Scale, will notify HealthKit that it has a new weight and ask HealthKit to store that weight in the database on the iPhone. If the patient has given permission for the MyChart app on their phone to know about that data, HealthKit “wakes up” the MyChart app and tells it there’s new data. The MyChart app on the phone then transmits that weight back to the EpicCare EHR system where it can be used appropriately as part of the patient’s medical care.”
Potential Obstacles for HealthKit Developers
1. A lack of financial resources to build and manage compliant environments.
2. A general lack of understanding of HIPAA and how it relates to modern technologies.
It’s that lack of understanding that makes the emergence of HealthKit a hot button topic in the healthcare technology community, as it may force developers to recognize they cannot evade the issue of HIPAA compliance if a platform like HealthKit succeeds.
Apple is acting as a business associate, and as such, should be required to sign business associate agreements with covered entities:
“Depending on the form of the relationship between Apple and Epic, Apple may also be a subcontractor of Epic. At that point, Epic should require a business associate agreement from Apple; a subcontractor is basically a business associate of a business associate. Subcontractors were defined as a part of the HIPAA Omnibus Rule included in the HITECH Act, which went into effect last September,” Good said.