CHAPEL HILL – UNC Health Care is one of only 12 healthcare providers included in early release of Apple’s new health records app that enables the data to be accessed through iPhones.

Apple iPhone health app

“The new Apple Health app will allow patients to seamlessly download their electronic health record data from participating provider organizations, including UNC Health Care’s My UNC Chart, and integrate with Apple’s existing personal data tracking and reporting features,” a spokesperson for UNC Health says.

“Patients will have more direct connection with their health data, and more easily use their data to take better control of their personal health. In addition, this functionality will offer new and exciting opportunities for patients to use their health and fitness tracking data in collaboration with UNC Health Care providers to inform and improve their overall care.”

The app is “the latest indication of Apple’s growing ambitions in the digital health market,” The New York Times notes.

It becomes part of Apple’s popular Health app and “enable users to transfer clinical data — like cholesterol levels and lists of medications prescribed by their doctors — directly from their medical providers to their iPhones, potentially streamlining how Americans gain access to some health information.”

The app is being made available of the Apple operating system iOS 11.3 beta. The news came as Apple also made other upgrades and announced its new HomePod speaker

Apple vs tech giants

“It’s really strange to me that you can easily pull up all of your spending record on your credit card going back a long way in every detail, yet your health is way more important and you don’t have easy access to your health information,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “We want to make sure that consumers are empowered with information about their health.”

Tech giants including Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, are going head-to-head to obtain a larger slice of American health care spending, which amounts to more than $3 trillion annually.

“Our goal is to help consumers live a better day. We’ve worked closely with the health community to create an experience everyone has wanted for years — to view medical records easily and securely right on your iPhone,” Williams said in announcing the app upgrade.

“By empowering customers to see their overall health, we hope to help consumers better understand their health and help them lead healthier lives.”

UNC Health Care is the only North Carolina healthcare provider included in the initial rollout. But access is limited.

“Only employees and patients who have signed up for Apple’s beta program and have a My UNC Chart account will initially have access to this new feature and may begin connecting to UNC Health Care to access their health records via the Health app.,” the UNC spokesperson says.

My UNC Chart features

Features of the My UNC Chart include:

  • Communicate with your doctor

    Get answers to your medical questions from the comfort of your own home

  • Access your test results

    No more waiting for a phone call or letter – view your results and your doctor’s comments within days

  • Request prescription refills

    Send a refill request for any of your refillable medications

  • Manage your appointments

    Schedule your next appointment, or view details of your past and upcoming appointments

Other providers in iPhone app

Providers also involved in the rollout:

  • Johns Hopkins Medicine – Baltimore, Maryland
  • Cedars-Sinai – Los Angeles, California
  • Penn Medicine – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Geisinger Health System – Danville, Pennsylvania
  • UC San Diego Health – San Diego, California
  • UNC Health Care – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Rush University Medical Center – Chicago, Illinois
  • Dignity Health – Arizona, California and Nevada
  • Ochsner Health System – Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
  • MedStar Health –  Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia
  • OhioHealth – Columbus, Ohio
  • Cerner Healthe Clinic – Kansas City, Missouri