Industry Watch

July 21, 2021

Mobile Health

New Apple Feature Will Enable Health Data Sharing

Via a new operating system update from Apple slated for later this year, iPhone users will be able to privately share their health data with a trusted partner or caregiver, the tech giant revealed on June 7.

The announcement was part of a slew of updates Apple gave on its iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods products as part of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple’s iOS 15 software update is scheduled to come out this fall and will give users the ability, if they choose, to “give a loved one visibility into their health and wellness data, enabling them to have more meaningful conversations and provide support— even from afar—as they follow important alerts and changes over time,” Apple officials stated.

More specifically, Apple’s already existing Health app will include a new “Sharing” tab that lets users privately share their data with a trusted partner or caregiver. Users have full control over which data they share and with whom, whether they’re an aging parent who shares their activity or heart health data with a family member, a partner who chooses to share their fertility window insights, or a person with Parkinson’s disease who wants to share their mobility data with a physical therapist, Apple offered.

With user permission, the Health app can keep track of valuable information, potentially bridging the gap of what a person experiences between clinic appointments. U.S. users, through this feature, can choose to share certain types of health data—such as heart rate, detected falls, hours of sleep, or exercise minutes—with their doctor, which could lead to more informed conversations.

At participating healthcare organizations, a physician can review the Apple Health app data that a user chooses to share directly in the electronic health records (EHR) system, officials explained. iPhone owners already had the ability to access their health data via Apple’s Health Records platform that launched early in 2018 and is now live at hundreds of hospitals and clinics. Health Records allows patients who visit participating providers to access their health data on the iPhone Health app, and now, more features, such as data sharing, will be added to the health records tool.

For the person receiving this information, shared data is presented with important insights and trends highlighted, officials noted. Indeed, the new “Trends” feature as part of the Health app—also part of the software update—will add analysis for 20 types of data — ranging from resting heart rate to sleep to cardio fitness — so users can see how a given metric is progressing.

Apple officials believe that for users looking to keep an eye on their data over time, “Trends is a new way to intelligently and proactively highlight important changes, and surfaces the information in a way that’s easy to understand.” For those looking to monitor insights across areas like insulin delivery, trend analysis applies to data from third-party devices connected to the Health app.

Touching on the important privacy conversation that is often brought up when a patient’s health information moves—especially via an app—Apple stated that “Health data is under a user’s control, with granular control over which data types they choose to share and with whom. Data is encrypted when in transit and while at rest on a user’s device when locked behind a passcode, Face ID, or Touch ID. Apple does not have access to this information when a user chooses to share it with a loved one or doctor.”

Health IT Market

The Top EHR Vendors by Hospital Market Share: KLAS

Over seven in 10 U.S. hospitals (72 percent) deploy EHR systems from one of three leading developers in the space: Epic, Cerner, and Meditech.

The new data comes from the Utah-based KLAS Research, which recently released "complete reports" on these three EHR vendors as well as Allscripts. KLAS said that “These complete looks give a fast, but comprehensive summary of current KLAS data on these vendors and then an easy link out to more details. While these reports are new, the data has been previously reported in market segment reporting.”

Each year, KLAS interviews thousands of healthcare professionals about the IT products and services their organizations use. These interviews are conducted using a standard quantitative evaluation, and the scores and commentary collected are shared in reports like this one and online in real time so that other healthcare professionals can benefit from their peers’ experiences. The questions from the standard evaluation are organized into six customer experience pillars—culture, loyalty, operations, product, relationship, and value, KLAS explained.

Here are some key statistics and findings compiled from a few of the individualized KLAS reports:

Epic continues to set the pace, maintaining 31 percent of the hospital EHR market share and 42 percent of hospital beds. Epic’s strengths, according to the KLAS report, include having a fully integrated suite, interoperability, and consistent customer experience. The vendor’s weaknesses, KLAS reported, are high up-front costs, no direct option for community hospitals, and that customers are more on their own to develop internal expertise for non-core solutions such as cardiology or behavioral health, for example.

Epic’s combined overall product suite grade is a B+, while it receives an A for its combined overall loyalty grade. Ninety-four percent of customers are either satisfied or highly satisfied, and 63 percent of customers reporting deep different-vendor interoperability.

Cerner comes in a close second, controlling 25 percent of the hospital EHR market share and 27 percent of hospital beds. One core company strength reported by customers is having broad technology across the integrated Millennium suite, with integrating reducing third-party solutions and providing consistency across clinician workflows.

Another strength is that Cerner’s platform is frequently chosen by smaller organizations, who value Cerner’s robust clinical system and ability to scale to the needs of smaller hospitals, according to KLAS. On the other side, the company’s patient accounting module proves challenging for large organizations, and customers say that Cerner has taken a less prescriptive approach to sales and implementations, leading to variation in customer success.

Cerner’s combined overall product suite grade is a C, with a combined overall loyalty grade of a C+, the report revealed. Sixty-two percent of customers are either satisfied or highly satisfied, and 28 percent of customers report deep different-vendor interoperability.

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