Apple recently launched an effort to simplify the complicated world of medical records, and a Lancaster County health system is among the first in the nation to participate.
Patients of Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine who have iPhones can now use Apple’s Health app to get an overview of their records.
The app also pulls in records from any other participating systems that treated the patient, with a goal of providing a quick, comprehensive history of allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals.
Penn Medicine was one of 12 systems nationwide that started testing the service in January.
The only other one in Pennsylvania was Danville-based Geisinger Health System.
Health experts have been talking about the need for accessible medical records for a long time, and systems and the federal government have thrown a lot of time and money at the issue.
But so far, those efforts have succeeded far better inside systems than among them, with many systems now offering online portals that show patients what happened in that system, but few of them easily share that information with other systems.
Dr. Michael Ripchinski, Lancaster General’s physician executive for quality, said the offering gives patients “a single view of their medical record from multiple locations alongside their activity, nutrition, mindfulness, and sleep information” that “provides a unique opportunity for our patients to collaborate with our clinical teams and advance their health and well-being.”
Why it’s notable
Apple issued a release quoting Darren Dworkin, chief information officer of Cedars-Sinai, a prominent California health system that was among the original testers.
Dworkin said Apple is uniquely positioned to tackle the problem “because they have both a secure and trusted platform and have adopted the latest industry open standards at a time when the industry is well positioned to respond.”
Lancaster-based venture capital firm Aspire Ventures has spent the last several years working on various ways to transform health care with technology, including some that involve medical records.
Aspire Founder and CEO Essam Abadir said in an email that health care “has long been facing the tower-of-babel problem where no two systems can speak to each other.”
While he thinks the offering is unlikely to have an immediate significant impact on the patient experience, Abadir wrote, the concept’s long-term impact could be profound.
Apple announced expansion of the program in late March, saying it’s now available to patients from nearly 40 health systems.
None of the additions listed so far are in this region, but a spokeswoman for UPMC Pinnacle, which has sister hospitals in Lancaster and Lititz, said it is working to offer the service.