Apple's health ambitions grow as it hands users medical record information

New feature will give users power over their health data
Apple's serious health ambitions grow
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Apple's drive to give users control of their health data is taking another step forward, as an incoming software feature will let people download their medical records on iOS.

The new feature, called Health Records, will let users download and transfer information on their vitals, lab results, medications, immunizations from medical providers. This will be encrypted, but Apple will not be able to view it without the user's permission to do so.

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A dozen medical institutions have signed up to be part of the test, and a beta is about to be rolled out to consumers, with plans for a wider rollout in the spring.

The free movement of medical records is a big problem in the American healthcare system, the result of market competition. "There's a financial disincentive to make the health care records to communicate with each other," Steve Steinhubl, director of digital medicine at STSI, told Wareable.

By putting this data in people's hands, it will make it easier for people to shop around for doctors and not worry about taking their medical information with them. It also ensures that medical professionals can always access the data they need to see, granting your permission to give it to them.

Meanwhile Apple is beefing up its health team. On the website it's advertising for a "Health software integrations engineer" and a "Senior software engineer" in health. The company has also launched a study on the Apple Watch to scan users for irregular heart rhythms and alert them if they might be suffering from atrial fibrillation.

Apple is no longer playing coy; it's being very public about the fact it has larger healthcare ambitions, and they've begun in earnest.