Epic Systems Corp., the electronic health records Goliath based in Verona, usually shies away from publicity.
But the company drew the spotlight on Monday at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco when Apple officials announced they’ve partnered with Epic to create a platform called HealthKit. It’s expected to be available on the new iOS 8 versions of the iPad and iPhone that come out this fall.
“It’s actually really cool,” said Epic president Carl Dvorak, in an interview Friday.
The idea is that members of health care organizations that use Epic’s software may be able to plug results from health and fitness apps they use into their MyChart personal health records, and send them on to their physicians, if they so choose.
Devices that measure blood pressure or blood sugar, or pedometers that track your workouts, for example, could be integrated into the system, Dvorak said.
MyChart already has some of this capability, but HealthKit goes a step beyond. “What makes this special is: Apple has created a single way to do it so all the app makers can put it all in one spot,” Dvorak said. “And patients can make decisions about what information they would like to share with their doctors and have it shared in a safe and secure manner.”
The database will be securely encrypted and backed up by Apple, he said.
It will be up to the health care organizations to determine if they want to participate in the program.
If consumers pass along updated data to their health care providers — using HealthKit — physicians will be able to see if their patients need more help in dealing with health problems, Dvorak said.
He said HealthKit seems to be different from digital fitness platforms of other companies. “What makes this thing unique at this time is that the iPhone has become the widely adopted platform for clinical health and wellness and biometric gathering applications and sensors.”
Dvorak said there was no payment between Epic and Apple in developing HealthKit. “This is just the right thing to do for patients,” he said.
“This has wonderful potential for population health, managing chronic diseases, supporting patient wellness and fitness, and in general, having engaged patients and attracting new ones,” Dvorak said.
He said the announcement has created “a lot of excitement in the Epic user community,” with emails from health care organizations saying, “Count me in.”
More than 51 percent of U.S. citizens have an active health record in an Epic system, Epic chief executive Judy Faulkner told the company’s users’ group meeting last September.
An article on Vox.com, a news aggregation website, noted that some experts already are concerned about how much of the electronic health record market Epic controls.
“While scaling up HealthKit with Apple is inarguably innovative, it’s the kind of innovation that could lock in Epic’s dominance in the EHR world, for better or worse,” concluded the Vox story, published Tuesday.