Can data portability in healthcare drive more benefits?

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Tokyo, Japan: Data portability in healthcare remains relatively new and unexplored at this juncture. However, it appears that data portability has the potential to offer more healthcare benefits to patients as well as expand its reach to remote locations via mobile devices.

Though there are not many known use cases of data portability in healthcare around the world so far, however, one such initiative has been announced in Japan. Fujitsu and Sapporo Medical University (SMU) have announced a joint project to realise data portability in healthcare fields.

The project slated to initiate in April 2023 will realise data portability for patients’ healthcare data including electronic health records (EHRs) and personal health records (PHRs).

As part of the joint project, Fujitsu will develop a mobile app that enables users to view healthcare data on their iPhones and a cloud-based healthcare data platform to manage patients’ health data. This project marks the first initiative in Japan to link electronic medical records with Apple’s Health app under Apple‘s support.

EHR data stored on the newly developed external healthcare data platform will be converted to a format in accordance with JP Core (FHIR JP Core Implementation Guide Version 1.1.1). It is the latest Japanese guideline under the next-generation standards framework HL7 FHIR for health information exchange.

By empowering patients to access their medical data from anywhere at any time and play a more active role in managing their own health, the project aims to contribute to the provision of optimal medical care and services tailored to the health conditions of individual patients while simultaneously improving patient engagement.

Sapporo Medical University Hospital, the SMU-affiliated hospital aims to introduce the system in April 2023.

Japan currently faces increasing demographic pressures as it confronts the challenges posed by one of the oldest populations in the world. In addition to medical services, the usage of medical health data in patients’ individual health management represents an important issue both for patients and their families. China and Japan are among the nations that are facing the acute problem of ageing populations and are exploring new ways and means including the use of technology to serve their old populations with healthcare services.

To enable patients as well as medical providers to more easily manage medical data, many countries worldwide are implementing national standards under the HL7 FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource) framework designed to enable the rapid exchange of healthcare-related information, including medical records and other patient data. Many of these initiatives also increasingly promote the use of smartphone apps for health management.

In Japan, however, the scope of use of EHRs and other schemes that allow patients to manage health data on mobile devices remains limited. To this end, in recent years the Japanese government and relevant ministries started to examine measures to implement a framework whereby patients can manage both EHRs issued by medical institutions and their own vital data by themselves.

Fujitsu, which has been working to standardise EHRs and develop secure cloud technologies, and SMU, which has been working to improve the quality of advanced medical care in the Hokkaido area, launched a joint project using healthcare data at Sapporo Medical University Hospital to realise data portability in the healthcare field.

The outcome of the project will help Fujitsu and SMU not only have a pool of healthcare data but it will help to create a data portability framework specific to healthcare-related fields. Certainly, other countries can learn to work around data portability in healthcare and leverage it in improving healthcare systems and services for their people.

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