Cornell, UCSF, others working to help Android users share EHR data

CommonHealth, an open-source app designed to enable easier information sharing, will use HL7 FHIR and other specs to give Android phones similar functionality to Apple Health.
By Mike Miliard
04:18 PM

A collaborative group including Cornell Tech, UC San Francisco, Sage Bionetworks, Open mHealth and The Commons Project is set to launch CommonHealth, which aims to make it as easy to access and share electronic health record data with Android devices as it is with is with iPhone-based Apple Health.

The app, called CommonHealth and set to launch in 2020, is billed as open-source and non-profit public service. The goal, by using interoperability standards including HL7 FHIR, is to enable Android users to manage their own health data as easily as those who use Apple Health Records.

"Apple has shown real leadership and moved the industry forward by enabling patient access to their health information. Now CommonHealth is significantly expanding the number of people who can benefit from easy electronic access to their health records," said JP Pollak, senior researcher in residence at Cornell Tech and the CommonHealth product lead

To ensure privacy and security protections, the CommonHealth partners say they are implementing a robust governance model to review and approve all apps and partners who might connect to Android devices.

In an article and audio interview this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Ida Sim, co-director, Informatics and Research Innovation at UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, describes some of the leading-edge disease prevention and health management benefits that can accrue as patients make wider use of mobile devices.

But if the benefits of smartphone-enabled data sharing are clear, so are some of the potential tradeoffs with patient privacy. It's a topic that will be discussed in-depth this month at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara, California, where I'll moderate a panel with privacy and health IT experts Deven McGraw and Vince Kuraitis on the "Goldilocks" dilemma of health data sharing.

Going forward, interoperability momentum is clearly driven by "connecting healthcare providers much easily through APIs, and also sharing data with patients through APIs," said McGraw. "Data is going to be more open and more liquid. And in the health data space, that is deeply concerning to a lot of people."

It's also a concept that was explored this week in the New York Times, and drew Twitter responses from several former health IT leaders at HHS – who praised ONC's recent efforts put the power of data access and control in the hands of patients while maintaining robust privacy guardrails wherever possible.

"UCSF is committed to using technology to improve care for all of our patients," said Russ Cucina, Chief Health Information Officer for UCSF Health, in a statement. "The CommonHealth project will ensure that more of our patients have access to their health information, and that they can share it responsibly with the growing health technology sector."

"The upcoming launch of CommonHealth will unlock a wealth of opportunities for the developer and research communities, helping them to conduct more inclusive studies and deliver personal health management tools," added Deborah Estrin, associate dean for impact at Cornell Tech and co-founder of Open mHealth.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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