App lets Android users control their health records

A new Android app developed by Cornell Tech researchers and collaborators will make it easy for people to collect their personal health data and share it with trusted medical providers or apps.

CommonHealth is an open source, nonprofit public service, designed in partnership by Cornell Tech; the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); Sage Bionetworks; Open mHealth; and The Commons Project.

The app is being piloted at UCSF and select medical centers and health care systems.

CommonHealth was designed as an alternative to Apple Health, a popular health care app currently in use by hundreds of hospitals but not available to people without Apple devices. Both tools will allow users who are patients at participating medical centers to download their health records to their phones and share their records with other partners.

“Apple has shown real leadership and moved the industry forward by enabling patient access to their health information,” said JP Pollak, CommonHealth’s product lead and senior researcher in residence at Cornell Tech.

“Now CommonHealth is significantly expanding the number of people who can benefit from easy electronic access to their health records,” said Pollak, also a visiting fellow in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and an assistant professor in the Clinical Epidemiology and Health Services Research Program at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.

For example, a patient using CommonHealth who is seeking a second opinion on a diagnosis could easily provide medical records to a participating doctor, rather than waiting to receive printed images or CDs and hand-delivering them.

To ensure patient privacy and promote trust, the CommonHealth partners are building a robust governance model to review and approve all apps and partners connecting to CommonHealth.

The personal health data collected in aggregate through CommonHealth may also be used to improve digital therapeutics and diagnostics, biomedical research and patient care, the researchers said.

“The upcoming launch of CommonHealth will unlock a wealth of opportunities for the developer and researcher communities, helping them to conduct more inclusive studies and deliver personal health management tools,” said Deborah Estrin, the Robert V. Tishman ’37 Professor and associate dean for impact at Cornell Tech and co-founder of Open mHealth, a nonprofit aiming to make patient-generated health data open and accessible.

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Lindsey Knewstub