The electronic health records (EHR) concept promises real-time data integration, accessibility, privacy, and security. Ideally, patients and their healthcare team members anywhere in the world can access comprehensive, accurate health records on multiple device platforms. At that time, the EHR will be a major component of mobile healthcare, sometimes referred to as mHealth. Apple just took a major platform step toward supporting EHRs with its January 24th iOS 11.3 beta release.

Apple’s new mobile operating system includes an updated Health app that can show medical records on a patient’s iPhone. Apple based the app’s Health Record feature on FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), a current standard for electronic medical record transfer. In a sign the Cupertino-based company is moving in the right direction, 12 twelve major U.S. hospitals signed up as digital health partners with Apple. The participating institutions include: Johns Hopkins Medicine; Cedars-Sinai – Los Angeles; Penn Medicine in Philadelphia; Geisinger Health System in  Danville, Pennsylvania; UC San Diego Health; UNC Health Care – Chapel Hill; Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center; Dignity Health in Arizona, California and Nevada; Ochsner Health System in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; MedStar Health in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia; OhioHealth in Columbus; and Cerner Health Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri.

The hospitals will offer the iOS 11.3 beta Health Records section of the Health app to their patients. The Health Records app includes data on the patient’s allergies, clinical vital signs, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, and procedures. The app also links to the patient’s portals at their various healthcare providers. It would be helpful if the new Health app tied in with institutional billing codes and systems, but that bit doesn’t appear to be on the feature list for now. Apple expects the final iOS 11.3 release to be ready for download in a few months.