One of the biggest trends impacting the healthcare industry is a move toward more accessible care. Patients want to have access to their health information at anytime, anywhere. The cool thing is, healthcare companies are constantly finding more value in providing such access. Interconnectivity is becoming more attractive because the health industry is in the midst of a serious facelift—a data facelift, that is.
The ONC has been hyper-focused on encouraging companies to improve interconnectivity by creating the EHR Incentives and Certification program. It may sound complicated, but the underlying idea is fairly simple: Encourage the healthcare industry to provide more access to patient and other data to improve clinical outcomes and patient experience. The program is driven by the Meaningful Use of healthcare data initiative. What’s involved? Well, there are a number of certification criteria, but the third and final stage, MU3, focuses on the requirement to expose APIs to drive greater interconnectivity. APIs are multi-purpose data connectors that help integrate systems and simplify access to information.
This means big change for the enterprise. Data is going to be recorded, stored, integrated, accessed, and shared like never before. While open interconnectivity can lead to potential business challenges—additional costs, data management efforts, and increased potential for patient churn—the benefits are far more valuable. The opportunity is bigger than simply exposing data and allowing patients to access health records on a mobile device. The initiative promotes efficiency improvements to backend systems, powerful new ways to analyze and act on health and disease data, and even the creation of new business models from clever integrations.
APIs help optimize healthcare IT
The MU3 initiative gives healthcare companies a great opportunity to optimize hybrid IT systems while driving costs down in the process. As IT becomes more involved in business decisions, systems and development teams must keep up with the demand for bigger and more insightful data. At the same time, enterprise systems are becoming more complex, requiring more robust integration. As acquisitions are made or systems are added, the integration spaghetti only gets messier.
The way to simplify the spaghetti is with APIs. Properly designed and managed APIs can greatly reduce time-to-market by enabling developers to quickly access necessary information. Using APIs to improve the way backend systems work together will lead to efficiency improvements, making IT even more valuable to the front lines of business.
MU3 encourages health professionals to take advantage of APIs to track, study, and understand illness and disease. Combine epidemiology with the robust power of analytics and APIs to better understand health data, which can lead to an improved care experience. This is going to be very helpful for monitoring and treating chronic illnesses. Better understanding healthcare data can mean the difference between life and death, literally.
Physicians can communicate with patients through API-powered web and mobile apps to provide better overall care, especially for illnesses that require consistent monitoring. Advanced access to health data may also lead to breakthroughs in the understanding of how diseases spread, helping healthcare professionals to better mitigate risks while reducing costs associated with care.
APIs and your health
APIs can help improve IT effectiveness which makes data more accessible for analysis and insights, but that’s just a piece of the story. The real value comes from the clever ways that healthcare data is leveraged against other data to create new opportunities. APIs enable businesses to create new revenue from previously unfathomable integrations.
Care providers will now have the ability to serve patients and other industry professionals across platforms, freeing information from the datacenter. Apps like caretree.me, which helps patients and family interact with healthcare teams, will be able to provide better service with more robust APIs. Easier access to patient information and deeper integration with hospitals and providers are easy enhancements for a use case like this. Greater data control will also allow patients to determine who has access to their information and how it is used, helping to serve them better.
The MU3 API initiative is a gold mine, disguised as a regulatory thorn in the side. Although it is presented to the industry as a requirement, API certification presents an opportunity to advance care and change the way the businesses interoperate. APIs will help lead the next wave of high-value health IT innovation. Exposure of data and increased connectivity of systems will lead to new and exciting opportunities for healthcare providers and patients alike. Systems will become more integrated, efficient, and intelligent. More connected healthcare means more opportunities to innovate and grow using data. Data will become even more valuable as it becomes more accessible. Fear not, an investment in APIs will not go to waste. Positive disruption is coming to healthcare, and it is here to stay.