Healthcare industry looks to future of APIs

Technology
APIs could hasten better applications for providers and patients. Credit: Getty Images/ipopba.

Across the healthcare sector, enthusiasm is building for application programming interfaces (APIs) to improve organizational performance and provide a better patient experience. Overwhelmingly, clinical and other leaders see APIs as technology-enablers of process change and evolving care models.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from Chilmark Research, which found that providers expect the digital revolution spawned by APIs in consumer apps and in other industries to spread to the healthcare realm. There’s “broad consensus” that the largest health information technology vendors and their large provider clients must lead the way to develop APIs, according to the report.

Many small healthcare companies have had trouble accessing and using API data from larger, more established electronic health record vendors, as FierceHealthcare has reported. But Chilmark predicts the technology will eventually trickle down. It notes that smaller healthcare organizations are dealing with the “tyranny of the moment,” and are still waiting for proof of the utility and efficacy of an API-based infrastructure.

RELATED: Small tech companies struggle to access APIs from bigger EHR vendors

“Physicians in particular see APIs as a way to make [electronic health records] more functional and user responsive. But it is not just EHRs where APIs can make a difference,” said Brian Murphy, lead author researcher on the project.

“Almost every application in healthcare can benefit from more attention to the needs of healthcare users and the demands placed on their time and attention. Expectations are high that APIs can improve the user experience, enhance app functionality and more fully utilize data across connected healthcare enterprises.”

RELATED: APIs can unlock health information for patients

Already widely used within the banking and credit card industries, API technology holds promise to help patients easily access their medical records and improve interoperability between different healthcare providers.

Several new laws will help bring APIs to the healthcare industry.

Through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which was signed into law in April, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced two metrics to measure interoperability among providers.

The 21st Century Cures Act requires the ONC’s Health IT Certification Program to include API technology.

Chilmark Research held a webinar last week on the emerging role of APIs in healthcare. Check it out, below: