Apple: A big announcement that isn’t big news

by Stephanie Kovalick, Chief Strategy Officer, Sage Growth Partners

The whole industry is abuzz with Apple’s announcement yesterday that they’re integrating electronic health records (EHRs) onto the iPhone and Apple watch.

Wow.

The thing is, I took a look and I can do all of that today. I can.

I can access my Epic myChart on both my phone and my watch. It’s pretty good, too. I can make, change, or cancel appointments, see my lab results before I get a letter in the mail, and check my allergy list and prescriptions. I don’t though, unless I need to which is only about twice a year. It struck me that this big news really isn’t big news at all.

Here are three reasons why:

Interoperability is a farce.

The healthcare industry has been trying to make this happen for years – trying to bring personal health data from Epic, eClinicalWorks, and athenahealth – or any other EHR –together… but progress has moved at a snail’s pace. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Healthcare consumers aren’t much different now than they were in 2012.

Google said it best when they saw that consumer adoption of personal health technology was limited to tech-savvy patients, caregivers, and fitness buffs: “We haven’t found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people.”

There’s no ROI.

Today’s healthcare environment is full of stakeholders who make very careful investment decisions based on clear, substantiated ROI. There is none here today based on my two points above. When that ROI emerges, it will change the conversation.

I get all of my healthcare through the Johns Hopkins Health System where everyone uses Epic, so the convenience of a single record exists for me. This new promise Apple is making doesn’t seem to give me more than what I already have. I can see where it might make a difference if my primary care physician and specialists were not on the same EHR, but I also know that integrating data from multiple EHR systems in a meaningful way is nearly impossible. Even integrating data from two different implementations of the same vendor is nearly impossible – the vendors have tried, but it’s hard to find examples of success.

I’m still trying to figure out why this announcement is such a big deal. If you’ve been following the news coverage, you’ve probably seen reminders of how Google and Microsoft have tried to do the same thing and then pulled out of the market – so I won’t remind you of that.

Is this big news to you? I’d love to hear other perspectives. Email me your thoughts: Stephanie.kovalick@sage-growth.com.


Stephanie Kovalick is the Chief Strategy Officer; General Manager, Strategy, at Sage Growth Partners (SGP).
She is responsible for building SGP’s internal growth strategy as well as leading the strategy consulting team. 
She also has deep expertise in healthcare payment models and revenue cycle management.