How Apple’s patient records strategy could help consumers
News of Apple’s new iOS feature allowing people to access electronic health records on their phones drew mixed reviews this past week. Many people likened the effort to Google’s failed venture. However, Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. chief technology officer, and Shafiq Rab, senior vice president and chief information officer of the Rush University Medical Center see it differently and have high hopes for the venture.
In an article in Wired, Chopra and Rab discuss why Apple’s move can work. A big reason is the fact that Apple has committed to using an open application programming interface (API). This means that the technology doesn’t depend on a proprietary system, so it opens up interoperability and communication between EHRs, providers and ultimately, consumers. The article’s authors give a good explanation about why the EHR effort will be effective:
“This move is a game-changer for three reasons: It affirms there is one common path to open up electronic health records data for developers so they can focus on delighting consumers rather than chasing records. It encourages other platform companies to build on that path, rather than pursue proprietary systems. And it ensures that the pace of progress will accelerate as healthcare delivery systems respond to the aggregate demand of potentially millions of iPhone users around the world. Understanding the promise of this announcement requires a bit of historical context. In the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, President Obama signed into law the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included more than $37 billion for investing in the adoption and use of electronic health records by doctors and hospitals. Tucked away in that program was a comparably modest $15 million investment in research and development to bring to life a vision of applications inspired by Apple’s App Store. That R&D funding contributed to the development of the open API standard that Apple now requires of providers wishing to make the feature available to their patients.”
Not to toss a wet blanket on the excitement, but we still maintain that what consumers really care about more than anything is how much healthcare is going to cost. Easy access to their records doesn’t change the fact that many of them cannot pay for healthcare. People are putting off doctor visits because of high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs, according to a survey conducted by 20|20 Research in partnership with CarePayment:
- 44 % of all surveyed patients said they would not seek care if their out-of-pocket costs reached as high as $500, even if this delay put their health at risk
- 69 % said that their deductible is at least somewhat difficult to afford
- 22 % said their deductible is very difficult or impossible to afford
- 23 % reported a deductible between $2,500 and $5,000
- 11 % said their deductible was over $1,000
And let’s not forget another study that revealed 39 percent of people who have an emergency of more than $1,000 cannot pay for it out of their savings.
So over 40 percent of people will not seek care if the bill is as high as $500 and almost that many can’t pay for a $1,000 emergency out of their savings. That leaves out a lot of people seeking healthcare regardless of access to their patient record.
We have to do better. Giving consumers a way to shop for lower cost services while still receiving quality care is a good start. Giving them payment plans helps, too. How about providing them with a retail marketplace where they can conduct their healthcare business? As in, the business of finding providers, shopping for services and procedures, then scheduling and paying for those services right from one app in their smartphone? Their EHR could be part of that one app.
Apple’s EHR efforts have the potential to help consumers, and dramatically, if Apple uses patient records as a means to provide consumers a retail experience in healthcare. Chopra and Rab set the stage for this in their article:
“Imagine if Apple further opens up Apple Health so it no longer serves as the destination, but a conduit for a patient’s longitudinal health record to a growing marketplace of applications that can help guide consumers through decisions to better manage their health.”
HealthQRS solves the consumerism problem in healthcare with our retail marketplace. Apple could use our system to provide consumers both access to their records and services. HealthQRS ties in both short-term and long-term with Apple’s EHR strategy. Short-term we solve the consumer’s problem with finances. We provide them a way to shop for services, find discounts, set up payment plans and more. We help patients at every economic level, including those who depend on Medicaid. For instance, the solution can navigate patients to where they need to go based on certain criteria in their plans.
In addition to finances, our system does so many other things including transportation and patient alerts, to name just a few. When a consumer is setting up an appointment, there is a pop-up screen that asks if he needs transportation. If the answer is yes, then options instantly appear. Wellness aspects are also built into the system. Service provider can alert patients about tests, procedures, and even when to take medications. In addition to service providers, patients can find pharmacies using our system.
Long-term, EHRs integrate with our system. This can help in many ways, but just example: you can use the EHR to get pre-authorization for procedures using HealthQRS’ solution and could automate the pre-authorization process. This sets the stage for quicker approvals and healthier, more satisfied consumers.
Apple is on the right track with their patient records initiative, but they need a partner to round out the offering and provide a full retail experience for consumers. HealthQRS is that partner. We have over 12 years of experience developing healthcare retail experiences for people and our founders have over 50 combined years of e-commerce experience. Our E-Commerce Medical Marketplace Flyer provides more information. Click here to download the flyer. We invite you to contact us right now for more information or click here to schedule a demo.
 Aneesh Chopra and Shafiq Rab, “Apple’s Move to Share Health Care Records is a Game-changer,” Wired, Feb. 19, 2018, https://www.wired.com/story/apples-move-to-share-health-care-records-is-a-game-changer/
 “New CarePayment Research Shows Americans Can’t Afford Their Medical Bills,” Business Wire, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180214006069/en/New-CarePayment-Research-Shows-Americans-Can%E2%80%99t-Afford
 Taylor Tepper, “Most Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $1K emergency,” Bankrate, Jan. 18, 2018, https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/financial-security-0118/
 Chopra and Rab, “Apple’s Move,” Wired, Feb. 19, 2018, https://www.wired.com/story/apples-move-to-share-health-care-records-is-a-game-changer/