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article imageApple to open up health record data to third-party iOS apps

By Tim Sandle     Jun 5, 2018 in Health
Apple has announced plans to will open up health record data to third-party iOS apps through a new API. The service, which will be available in October 2018, will enable users to share health data from over 500 hospitals/clinics with third-party apps.
Apple devices come with a health app. The app gathers health data about the user, and it operates on the iPhone, Apple Watch, and other apps, allowing the user to view all of their health statistics progress in one place. The health app highlights data analysis across four categories, which are: Activity (how much you move), Sleep (about get into a healthier sleep routine), Mindfulness (aims to be a way to relieve stress and improve your overall health), and Nutrition (tracking food intake and assisting with dieting).
Apple has announced that it will open its Health Records application programming interface, data collected via the health app, to developers and researchers this autumn. The records section of the app currently enables patients of over 500 hospitals and clinics to access medical information. This information is organized into one view via the device.
The new plan, as CNet reports, is to have the facility for this data to be shared with third-party iOS apps. This can happen once Apple makes its application programming interface available to app developers and those engaged in medical research.
According to Apple, app developers can potentially use the medical data to create personalize apps tailored for specific medication tracking, and for areas like disease management, nutrition planning and medical research and so on. As Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, states: "With the Health Records API open to our incredible community of developers and researchers, consumers can personalize their health needs with the apps they use every day."
The Apple announcement will spark privacy alarms with many users. According to TechCrunch, Apple will seek to deal with these concerns by ensuring all data sharing requires the user to opt-in before any health data is shared with any apps. A second measure being proposed is that all health records are encrypted and with the data only stored locally on the smartphone, as opposed to being stored in a cloud. Whether this level of security and privacy protection is sufficient for everyone is likely to be discussed in the follow-on from the announcement.
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