Kaiser Permanente launches open API for health app development

Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation's largest not-for-profit health plans, has released an open application programming interface (API) that will allow developers to collaborate with the healthcare system on apps, according to an eWeek article. Called Interchange, the API will enable developers to integrate Kaiser Permanente's data on its facility locations into their apps through the company's developer portal.

With access to Kaiser Permanente's public data using Interchange, app developers will be able to shorten their production time and align apps to consumers'  lifestyles, the company states.

"By giving developers access to our public data, beginning with location information, we are enabling collaboration and co-creation," Madhu Nutakki, vice president of digital presence technologies for Kaiser Permanente, told eWeek. "We're in the beginning stages of the API, and we're exploring how we can collaborate to serve our members and communities." 

As part of this effort, Kaiser Permanente plans to allow developers to create apps that collect data from medical tracking devices.

"As we release new data sets and begin to harness device-generated data, there is potential to see a new era of hyper-personalized, patient-centered apps that will change the way our members and communities engage in their health," Phil Fasano, executive vice president and CIO of Kaiser Permanente, said in a written statement.

In addition, by providing APIs for developers to create health apps, Kaiser Permanente intends to create access to care and reduce the cost of medical services, the article states.

Interoperability is a critical step in supporting scalable mobile healthcare solutions, and can bring many benefits to providers and payers, but adoption of standards and guidelines has been inconsistent, according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The problem, says PwC, is the status quo of proprietary, closed end-to-end solutions "intended to create a dedicated customer base and a competitive advantage" resulting in systems that are "disparate and difficult to integrate" in which "only the vendor seems to know the secret on how to unlock the data."

PwC observes a "mixed approach in the adoption of standards and APIs," with some successful mHealth apps providing "open or semi-open APIs allowing software to communicate with each other across a dozen other devices and apps." However, according to PwC, published interoperability guidelines for connected health devices from the Continua Health Alliance, a non-profit industry organization that certifies mHealth solutions globally, are being inconsistently adopted.

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