UK hospitals launch iPhone app for medical records
Patients at two UK hospitals are able to view their medical records on their iPhone from today (October 7).
Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) and Oxford University Hospital are the first British hospitals to enable patients to view their health care records via the Health app on their iPhone.
The Health Records feature on the app means patients can get a central view of their medical records including lab results, medications, procedures, allergies, conditions, vital signs and immunizations. It also notifies patients when their data is being updated.
The Health app also shows activity, heart rate, nutrition and other health data consolidated from the user's iPhone or Apple Watch, for instance.
More than 70,000 patients at MKUH are already registered to the hospital's MyCARE app, which lets them book and change appointments, access hospital correspondence and other information directly from their smartphone. Health Records on the iPhone provides another option to ensure patients have access to available hospital data from within their electronic patient record (EPR).
Patients can can download their health records by selecting Milton Keynes University Hospital and authenticating with their existing MyCARE credentials. They are then invited to register with MKUH’s MyCARE patient portal once they come into the care of specific hospital services.
The feature has been designed to protect patients’ privacy via a direct, encrypted connection between the user’s iPhone and the healthcare organisation. Downloaded health records data is stored on the device and encrypted with the user’s iPhone password, Touch ID or Face ID.
The hospital refers some of its patients to specialist services at Oxford University Hospitals, who also launch the iPhone app today, so that patients can view their records from both hospitals in one place.
MKUH Chief Executive, Professor Joe Harrison said: “This is a really exciting step for the hospital and our patients. We continually hear from our patients that they want more autonomy over their health care – having access to their health records is the key part of this, so this is a momentous step forward.
“Accessing their health records via the Health app on iPhone provides another great option for patients to view their health data. Clinicians will still contact patients to discuss their care and any test results. It just means patients have the additional opportunity to view this information on their iPhone.
“We are living in a modern world, in which people organise every aspect of their lives online. At MKUH, we want to be at the forefront of making sure the NHS allows patients to do the same.”
Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies
It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain.
Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain.
What is long Covid exactly?
Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.
How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!
When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover.
If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus.
The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.
What symptoms does this cause?
These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.
In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.
This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.
How does long-haul Covid affect mental health?
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.
How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.”
We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain.
We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and running half marathons again.
At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response.
The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival.
What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid?
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy.
What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.