Image courtesy of Apple
By Jamie Ducharme
January 24, 2018
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

A new feature will allow iPhone users to store a whole new chunk of data on their devices: their medical records.

The Health Records feature, part of the existing Health app, will allow consumers to store previously disparate pieces of their medical records — including health history, immunization records, allergies, prescription drug lists and test results — on their phones, according to an announcement from Apple.

The idea, Apple says, is to make it as fast and easy to access medical data as it is financial and personal information, streamlining what can be a piecemeal collection of data.

A number of big-name health care providers, including Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai, Penn Medicine and UC San Diego Health, have already agreed to participate in the beta version of the program, and Apple says more are on the way.

Using Health Records, information will be transmitted electronically from participating providers to patients’ phones. Users will have to opt in to the service through the Health app. Once they do, they can scroll through their data and receive notifications when it’s updated.

All data stored in the app will be encrypted and password-protected, according to Apple’s announcement.

The new addition underscores Apple’s investment in the health world.

The latest version of the Apple Watch, for example, can be used as a continuous heart rate monitor, which could be a valuable tool in treating heart disease And in December, the company announced GymKit, a forthcoming functionality that will sync the watches with exercise equipment. In 2016, the company also acquired health data storage platform Gliimpse, perhaps foreshadowing its latest endeavor.

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