Apple on Wednesday announced that the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will offer its more than 9 million patients access to their health information via Health Records, a feature in Apple’s Health app.
The VA, which provides health care for veterans across more than 1,200 facilities in the US, is the nation’s largest medical system. The major customer joins more than 400 organizations already using Health Records, including the University of California San Diego, Quest Diagnostics, Allscripts and a number of other health care providers, laboratory networks and electronic health records vendors.
Health Records gives consumers a hand-held electronic health records (EHR) system that aggregates patient data from participating institutions. That data could include medications, immunizations, lab results and other medical information. The iOS app effectively saves a patient the hassle of having to log into each care provider’s individual website to review their health information. Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID or Face ID.
Ahead of Wednesday’s national rollout, the VA over the summer launched Health Records to a limited number of patients.
Health is a key area of focus for Apple. At the start of this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said on CNBC, “If you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ It will be about health.”
Apple has been quietly expanding in this space for a number of years now, starting with the launch of its HealthKit platform and Health app, which debuted alongside the first Apple Watch. Since then, it’s moved toward working with medical professionals.
Apple is far from the only tech company moving into the health sector. Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Google have all made moves in the industry. Just days ago, Google announced it’s spending $2.1 billion to purchase Fitbit.