There has been a lot of hype recently, well deserved, of Apple utilizing the Health app to enable customers to link their medical records directly to their smartphone. While this feature is only available to 12 hospital systems across the country -- you might be surprised to know that your hospital is most likely eligible for a similar type of functionality already.

What is most interesting is how Apple created this functionality -- linking a customers phone to their electronic health record. They utilized FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) -- a standard that isn’t unique to just the 12 hospital systems Apple is working with.

This FHIR standard is already live in a majority of hospital systems across the country, and your health system can utilize the standard to optimize your electronic health record already. When the 21st Century Cures Act passed in late 2016, it essentially mandated interoperability of patient records and the ability for more access to patient data. The goal was to prevent patient data silos within EHRs, which can stifle innovation.

This was a large reason why at the end of last year, Epic and Cerner officially launched their EHR App Stores -- enabling health systems to download applications directly to their electronic health record. It’s a large reason why you saw the announcement by Apple at the beginning of this year.

Epic and Cerner are now encouraging hospital systems to work with developers in order to optimize their EHRs -- similar to downloading apps to optimize how your iPhone or Android works.

Currently Cerner’s App Store has more than 15 applications listed in their gallery with many more on the way. Epic’s App Orchard has more than 50 listed in their gallery right now.

All of these applications utilize the FHIR standard, the same standard that Apple is currently utilizing for their Health App. Because of federal mandates, almost every hospital system’s EHR has the capability to utilize FHIR technology -- and yet many don’t even know they have this capability.

In future pieces we will describe the different ways health systems can utilize these App Stores to optimize their electronic health record. If you have immediate questions on how to use these EHR integrated apps at your hospital, feel free to reach out to me: iltifat@impathiq.com or @itlifatmd.