The Department of Veterans Affairs is reportedly in discussions with Apple to put electronic health records on the tech giant's mobile devices, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Apple would create special software tools that would allow veterans in the VA system to transfer their health records to their iPhone, sources familiar with the project told the WSJ. Emails reviewed by the news outlet also show that President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club associates backed the collaboration.
The consumer technology giant first approached the VA in early 2017 with a project that would give Apple access to approximately 9 million patients in the system. Apple would also provide engineering support to the agency.
Apple launched its Health Records app in early 2018, allowing health systems across the country to connect and giving patients access to their medical records at hospitals that joined. Since then, more than 120 healthcare provider organizations have connected to the app, including two of the country’s largest clinical laboratories.
In June, Apple opened its Health Records app up to developers, laying the groundwork for an “ecosystem” of new digital tools.
But the VA is also dealing with its own massive EHR overhaul, switching from its homegrown Vista platform to a $16 billion Cerner system.
That transition is expected to consume the next 10 years, and it's already been rife with leadership changes and concerns around the Defense Department's implementation. Lawmakers have already begun scrutinizing the agency’s expanding budget, calling the overhaul a “daunting” task and warning VA officials that they better solve the agency’s longstanding interoperability issues with both the Department of Defense and community providers.
Adding Apple to the mix would add an entirely new element to that process, while potentially giving veterans newfound access to their medial records.