How APIs Can Help Enable Interoperability in Healthcare

Robby Gupta

Application Programming Interfaces, commonly known as APIs, allow different programs to communicate with each other and create a network of systems that can operate in an integrated environment.

In healthcare, APIs fulfill the essential task of transferring and maintaining individual records and accumulate data based on reports generated through different systems.

Since they create an integrated operating environment, APIs allow healthcare professionals to connect with service providers and determine the specific parameters that can help the patients in their treatment.

A good example is when healthcare providers input a patient’s treatment and procedures and the insurance companies receive that input to determine the actual coverage for the procedure.

APIs are an innovative technology that enables the healthcare industry to deliver quality care to the patients.

It minimizes the bottlenecks that healthcare professionals face in maintenance and updating of records and aligning them with the proper treatment.

On the other hand, it multiplies the customer experience and offer them opportunities to avail modern healthcare services in less time and at a lower cost.

APIs in healthcare

The healthcare industry is focusing on maximizing patient care delivery by integrating as many systems as possible. With the help of interoperability, patient’s care can be integrated across a number of players that are involved in the process.

From fixing an appointment to test reports, the whole process will become simpler by enabling APIs to connect with different departments at once.

When EHRs were implemented, a patient’s health record could be accessed by many departments but the data was evaluated in isolation. The data silos were disconnected with each other in inter-department operability which led to problems in updating the patient’s record.

Jeff Becker, a senior analyst of healthcare strategy at Forrester Researchers says, “Determining what happens to the patient in the recovery facility still remains a blurry observation. There is no clear idea as to whether he or she transfers to the inpatient rehabilitation or is treated by a home health agency, which in turn breaks the whole story of the patient into more data silos.”

Understanding the patient at the treatment & procedural level and what happens after that is essential for proper care. When APIs are implemented, interoperability allows different service providers to communicate with each other and paint a clear picture of the patient’s treatment.

How APIs facilitate healthcare

When APIs are implemented along with business intelligence programs, they offer a holistic view of the patient’s medical records, procedures, and post-recovery treatment.

The framework enables healthcare facilities to come up with the right solutions for complex problems and maximize future capabilities for interoperability.

APIs save cost by allowing different apps to connect with each other and healthcare is reaping huge benefits from that. The patient information is frequently updated and will be accessible by all service providers who play a crucial role in the overall patient journey.

API technology has opened doors for interoperability that were once unfathomable.

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Is API perfect?

Even though the API technology acts as a catalyst for healthcare professionals, it has its own problems. APIs have transformed the way patient information is sent and received but the lack of standards leads to creating customized APIs for different systems that hinder interoperability.

Since each API is built using several attributes and data sources, upgrading different APIs means upgrading the extract/transform/load scripts which, in a single system, can consume a lot of time.

Another aspect to consider is the testing environment of the API. The data in the healthcare system does not necessarily match with the data flow of the test environment.

Since actual healthcare data operates in a diverse environment, it is problematic to operate in the test environment without considering all the data sources.

Traditional frameworks in healthcare

Even today, medical records are accessed and patient data is processed via secure FTP flat files based on remote log-in. This does not involve the use of API. Older technology such as this is only a single system based model that doesn’t offer complete integration with the healthcare systems.

Moving from such on-premise model technology to a cloud-based platform by enabling APIs will allow the healthcare industry to better serve their customers.

FHIR has implementation standards which are absent from other technologies, but they are not widely popular. The subsets of different APIs can be easily implemented with variations in data elements.

Without these, CIOs struggle to create an integrated solution which supports the interoperability of the systems.

What’s next in interoperability?

Healthcare APIs have the capability to bring a revolution in data exchange between different systems. Vendors will adopt a standardized implementation model and newer implementations like DaVinci, which support payer-provider data sharing.

Interoperability through APIs will enable patients and providers to coordinate on chronic disease management. It will also support the health & life sciences system to achieve result-driven reimbursement models and maximize post-market surveillance efficiency.

For APIs to work properly, standardized data is essential to create coherence among data sets. Providers and patients will get better insights into the medical history which will provide new data points for making informed decisions.

When APIs are implemented, the patients and providers can easily move across the healthcare system and transfer data from one place to another which is essential for a complete record of the patient’s health.

In essence, APIs will provide a realistic look at the Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare. A patient can utilize a smart device for test and check-up and the information will easily be transferred to their medical records for further treatment.

This easy transfer of data will update information on every API enabled system allowing hassle-free treatment and care for the patient. Even the exchange of information through apps will enable healthcare professionals to gain a deeper understanding of the patient’s health.

When the data is accumulated for genomics, medical care can be properly articulated and newer methods of treatments can be developed based on this data exchange. The healthcare industry will, thus, benefit exponentially from APIs in the coming years.

Wrap Up

TechJini, a leading healthcare software company, provides innovative solutions that improve the patient and physician experience. We take a 360° digitized approach to maximize patient care and service delivery.

Our experts work with different stakeholders to identify challenges and recommend the right mobile app solutions and custom software to solve

challenges and improve productivity. Get in touch with us and kickstart your journey of building a digital healthcare ecosystem.

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about the author

Robby Gupta

Robby Gupta is the head of US operations for TechJini, Inc. He has had varied experiences working in New York, Cupertino, and Bangalore with packaged & amp; custom web and mobile app development for an assortment of industries. His current focus is Immersive Technologies, IoT, AI bots and their applications in the digital enterprise.