Data Privacy Discussion Health

UK hospitals and Apple health hook-up is a good start – but more needs to be done

Apple has launched Health records on iPhone in the UK, with patients in Oxford and Milton Keynes the first to be able to take advantage.

IPhone users of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust can now view and store their medical records within the health app on their phone. The connection between the user’s phone and their records is direct and encrypted, as the data does not travel via Apple’s servers.

This is obviously good news for fans of decentralised and personal ownership of data. However, while it is great to see these two trusts understanding the importance of individuals owning their health data with full privacy protections in place, equity of access is also important.

We believe this is an ability that should be available to all, especially within the UK’s universal healthcare model.

Enabling this will, at its heart, require an ecosystem of apps and services as, inevitably, there will be no single app or service that meet everyone’s needs. This, in turn, makes data portability and the ability for individuals to easily share their data, on their own terms, crucial – all key elements of’s work and vision.

Apple worked with organisations including Cerner and Epic to enable the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards-based integration for this service. already integrates with Epic and Cerner, and has over 270 providers in the US as well as national connectivity to Iceland, the Netherlands and GPs in England.

Linking up different elements of the ecosystem requires opening up APIs, so the maximum number of services and providers can connect, maximising patient choice and opportunity.

All moves to put patients closer to their healthcare records and treatment are forward-thinking and welcome, but a fully equitable and open patient-centric world that everyone can access should be the guiding aim.