UCSF is the First Health System Available in CommonHealth App

Ida Sim, MD, PhD, co-director of the Informatics and Research Innovation (IRI) program at CTSI and professor of Medicine, shares insights on the CommonHealth project and app. CTSI provided funding support to pilot the app at UCSF.

CommonHealth is an Android app similar in function to Apple Health. It is designed to make it easy for people to securely collect their electronic health record data and share it with their other providers and health apps that have demonstrated their trustworthiness. As of 2018, Apple gave Apple Health app users the capability to download their health data from their electronic health record (EHR). Until now, Android users, which make up of 52% of the US smartphone market and are often more cost-driven consumers, lacked an equivalent platform. CommonHealth fills that void.


Ida Sim, MD, PhD

Why did you get involved with the CommonHealth project?

I got involved with the effort really as an equity issue for research and patient care. CommonHealth was built by The Commons Project, a 501c3 non-profit public trust supported by The Rockefeller Foundation. The Commons Project provides digital services and products with the public’s interests in mind: people’s right to privacy and control of their data. “Digital public good” is one way to put it. I think there’s an important role for non-profit digital infrastructure services to support vibrant commercial markets like app ecosystems, but also build in a trust fabric that promotes and supports data interoperability in science and equity in clinical care. The Commons Project has been a terrific partner.


How does it work?

It’s exactly the same as the Apple Health app, even using the same infrastructure to access, retrieve and structure the data coming onto the Android phone from UCSF Health’s electronic records. There is a consent process and users have to sign in to their MyChart account to securely connect. The main idea is that your electronic health data is in your hands, accessible with much less technical pain and overhead. For now, people can show it to their providers at community clinics, tele-docs or other local providers not in the UCSF system. This is especially key when people are not eager to use public transit because of the risk of getting COVID-19. In the near future, users can share their data with other approved third-party apps. This ecosystem just didn’t exist for Android.screenshot of common health app


How did CTSI support this work and what happens next?

Looking ahead, the CommonHealth model isn’t about just pulling in EHR data or pulling in wearables data (internet of things) but really enriching the app ecosystem. Some of our partners in addition to UCSF and The Commons Project include Cornell Tech, Sage Bionetworks, and Open mHealth. We envision making patient-generated information available back to the providers, so for example at-home heart monitor and glucose meter information can be sent back into the primary EHR.


CTSI provided the funding to pilot CommonHealth at UCSF – we are the first pilot site live right now on the GooglePlay store since April 30, 2020! We’re in live testing mode as the pioneer institution.


In this time of COVID-19, it’s really important that people have access to their electronic health record. We are planning to reach out to all primary care patients in the Department of General Internal Medicine (DGIM) informing them that they can use either Apple or Android to pull their EHR data on their phone so if they need to get care locally (for example, if it’s too dangerous to come to UCSF by public transportation) they will have the medical data with them and share it with whichever clinician is providing them care. This allows for care continuity, outreach, and supporting our patients in getting the care that they need.


CommonHealth is currently in English, but will be available in Spanish and Chinese. With CTSI’s support, we’re been able to work with the Special Populations Health Equity Research and Education (SPHERE) program and Center for Vulnerable Populations (CVP) to do a diverse participant evaluation of CommonHealth. We want to make sure this technology and its ecosystem supports all patients, builds a trust framework, meets different cultures, and their concerns equitably. There’s a lot of work to be done but it’s a really important development that opens up a new frontier in health record use.


You can download your health record now – click sources and enter your UCSF MyChart credentials to see your labs, vitals, conditions, etc:




Team & Acknowledgement:



Ida Sim, Lead

Brian Turner

Eric Meeks

Leslie Yuan

Mark Pletcher

Julia Wallace

Andrew Robinson

Swarnim Ranjitkar

Russ Cucina


Evaluation with diverse communities

Courtney Lyles

Elaine Khoong

Tung Nguyen

Paula Fleisher

Jose Miramontes


The Commons Project

JP Pollak, Lead

James Kizer

Ben Hoefs

Kathleen Turner


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