Apple buys Gliimpse, which aims to handle every American’s health records

Apple’s latest acquisition wants you — and every single other person in America.

Electronic health records firm Gliimpse aims to sign up the entire U.S. population for its service, which lets users draw all their digital health records into a single package that can be shared with doctors, family members and caregivers.

Apple has just confirmed to Fast Company that it bought Gliimpse earlier this year. The health records company was launched in 2013. Globally, the electronic health records market, valued at $19 billion in 2014, is expected to be worth more than $30 billion by 2023.

Since the 2009 passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, which promoted and supported creation and use of digital health records, the percentage of U.S. hospitals using digital records leaped to 76 percent from 9 percent between 2008 and 2014, according to Mother Jones. 

But, said a group of Republican senators last year, the evidence is inconclusive as to whether “the program has achieved its goals of increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving the quality of care.”

The problem, said senators John Thune of South Dakota, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, is a lack of standardization across record-keeping institutions such as hospitals and clinics.

“We have been candid about the key reason for the lackluster performance of this stimulus program: the lack of progress toward interoperability,” the senators wrote on the website Health Affairs. “Countless electronic health record vendors, hospital leaders, physicians, researchers, and thought leaders have told us time and again that interoperability is necessary to achieve the promise of a more efficient health system for patients, providers, and taxpayers.”

Gliimpse, which claims links to 5,000 hospitals, labs and pharmacies, provides a free service that consolidates electronic records from a user’s array of health care providers, and allows the user to input their own data as well. By giving control to the user, privacy-related restrictions that hamper information-sharing between health care providers disappear, according to the company.

“You control who sees what and for how long,” says Gliimpse’s promotional material, which also describes the firm’s goal of signing up all 317 million Americans. “Share with physicians. Gain proxy access to ageing parent’s data. Get your kid’s immunizations to the school nurse.”

Gliimpse says it uses bank-level encryption to protect users’ data. The company says it makes money from fees to health care providers and payers, along with app developers.


Photo: Thomas Manning gives a thumbs up in May 2016 after being asked how he was feeling following the first penis transplant in the United States, in Boston. (Sam Riley/Mass General Hospital via AP) 


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