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Apple's deal with the VA is a big step toward giving patients control over their own health information

"By bringing Health Records on iPhone to VA patients, we hope veterans will experience improved healthcare that will enhance their lives," said Apple's COO Jeff Williams in a statement. Apple already works with dozens of hospitals that are integrated with its Health Records software, so their patients can access clinical information. But the VA, which represents 9 million people, is a big step forward for the company, as it's the largest medical system in the country. Industry experts say that Apple is taking advantage of a bigger movement to force medical record companies and insurers to open up access to health information, which is supported by the government and different academic groups. The earliest beneficiaries will be early adopters of Apple's health records software, who can use it to get their data from participating health systems, as well as veterans and patients enrolled in Medicare. But Mandl believes it's only a matter of time before commercial insurers and other groups follow suit. As this trend continues, anyone with a smartphone will someday be able to see their clinical record (what happened when they got treated at a hospital or clinic), and their claims history (what got billed).

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