VA and Apple began rolling out the capability during the summer but issued formal announcements this week, just ahead of Veterans Day.
“We have delivered veterans an innovative new way to easily and securely access their health information,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said Nov. 6 in a release. “Veterans deserve access to their health data at any time and in one place, and with health records on the Health app, VA has pushed the veterans experience forward.”
Veterans will see an aggregated view of their VA health care information such as lab results, medical history, procedures and medications.
Information from private medical providers also is available if that provider participates in the Apple Health program. More than 400 companies are on board, including Johns Hopkins, University of California San Diego, Quest Diagnostics and Allscripts.
Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said helping veterans further understand their health is a way to “show the company’s gratitude for their service.”
“By working with the VA to offer Health Records on iPhone, we hope to help those who served have greater peace of mind that their health care is in good hands,” Williams said in a release.
Veterans in the VA health system have had access to their medical records through the eBenefits and the MyHealtheVet websites. The VA’s “Blue Button” records sharing system also gives community care providers access to VA records.
According to Apple, all information is encrypted and protected by the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch or Face ID. The data is downloaded via an encrypted connection directly from the VA to the app and does not “traverse Apple’s network during this download,” according to the company’s website.
Once on the app, the information is encrypted by the iPhone’s HealthKit database.
Every iPhone has the Health app, one of the standard applications provided under the iPhone’s operating system. It can be used to track activity, nutrition, sleep, vital signs and other information pertaining to fitness and health.
Veterans wishing to access their records must open the app, and under “Access Your Records,” tap “Get Started.” They can then select the Department of Veterans Affairs under the search page.
For the time being, veterans who use Android devices cannot access their VA medical records via their phones. VA has not said whether it plans to partner with Google to make the option available.