It has tremendous potential.
I watched the keynote, and initially Healthkit seemed fairly unremarkable, just another way for consumer apps like Nike+ and sleep trackers to output their data into pretty charts. A cursory look at their website () would seem to support the view that Healthkit is targeted at those obsessed with the “quantified self” movement:
Calories burned? Sleep? Heart rate? This type of fitness-oriented data isn’t particularly interesting, as it’s been done before in a thousand different iterations, starting with pen and paper. Why should I care?
We’re then shown this screen, however, and from a clinical perspective, there are 4 key points of interest, particularly since Epic Systems (one of the largest EMR vendors in the nation) was mentioned in the keynote:
There’s also this:
Suddenly, I’m interested.
Imagine if with just your phone, you could travel with all of your former imaging studies (e.g. chest X-rays, CT scans). Your verified vaccination records. Your biopsy results. Your list of allergies. Your lab tests from the last 10, 15, 20 years. All the medications and doses you’ve ever been on, for what time period, and why. Your heart rate and blood pressure measurements from every clinic visit you’ve ever made.
What if all of this was kept in the cloud, with instant access through your phone?
What if, with, you could grant access to thiswealth of data to any new physician/system, with a single tap of your finger?
Take a moment to see. Then come back and think about this. This could be revolutionary.
The lung cancer patient in New York who wants to move to Michigan to be closer with her extended family now has significantly more peace of mind, knowing that her health data can easily move with her. She doesn’t have to drudge through the paperwork to release her own medical records from her prior hospital system. She doesn’t have to make a separate trip to the radiology department to have them burn her a CD/DVD of all of her imaging. She doesn’t have to burden her new oncologist with the task of sifting through hundreds of sheets of results by hand, as she can release them into the new EMR with a single tap of a finger. She doesn’t have to worry about whether the images on the disc will be compatible with her new radiologist’s system, as the cloud automatically adjusts the data format to match.
The trauma patient who arrives in a lower-acuity ER after a motor vehicle accident and is found to have a severe unstable ankle fracture on imaging can now be more easily transferred to a higher-level hospital with orthopedic surgery on call. The patient has his X-rays in the cloud. Within minutes of arrival at the new hospital, he opens his phone and grants access to the X-rays to his surgeon. The surgeon downloads them onto his Retina display iPad, quickly assessing the nature of the fracture to determine whether or not the patient requires emergent operation. Again: no drudging through paperwork. No waiting to process a CD/DVD. Less hassle. More clinical care.
I feel that Healthkit might well be the first step in creating something akin to a universal EMR. If Apple pulls this off with the right partners, they could potentially solve one of the single worst problems in healthcare today: the inability to easily transfer patient records from one care location to another.