Big Tech working with healthcare companies to make health data easier to access

medical records

Representatives from Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft have recently joined up in Washington D.C. alongside some of the largest health insurers and hospitals, to announce plans to provide consumers with easier access to their medical information.

The group agreed to begin testing a set of technical specifications for sharing claims, which is essentially everything that gets billed to the patients’ health insurance company — including tests, doctor’s visits and procedures. The specs were developed by the CARIN Alliance, a coalition of health and tech companies that was set up to advance “consumer-directed exchange of health information.”

Claims data provides a broad overview of a patient’s health, irrespective of where they received their care. It doesn’t go into details like clinical information, but it’s notoriously hard to access nevertheless, with every hospital and clinic where a patient received the care keeping it for itself.

Apple, Google and Microsoft have all dabbled with bringing tools to market that make it easier for consumers to access their health information. That goal, however, is not easily attainable.

Apple is arguably winning this “race”, working alongside hospitals or clinics to integrate with its HealthKit service, so consumers can access their clinical data at those institutions. Once Apple is able to access claims, it can start to better fill in the gaps, especially if an individual provider isn’t signed up to Apple’s health records service.

Once the tech giants develop these tools, they would — for instance — be able to help patients with tracking their medical bills, choosing health plans, and tamping down on fraud.

“Once it goes live next year, consumers can make better enrollment plan decisions because they know how they’re historically utilized health care services over the last few years,” Ryan Howells from the CARIN Alliance told CNBC. “They will have their longitudinal across providers, rather than having to download their information provider by provider.”

Howells added this is the first time that the industry agreed to standards associated with sharing claims data to third-party developers.

In a nutshell, Howells said, “I (patients) will have access to my claims information on any app of my choice, like Apple’s.”