August 6, 2021 3 mins read

APIs in Healthcare: Everything you need to know

Application Programming Interfaces (or APIs) are a link between applications that allows two of them to interact with each other. The programming sets the boundaries and defines the nature of the interaction between these different applications.

The healthcare industry has become highly digitalized, especially in regards to the records-keeping of patients. This digitization was done to promote coordinated actions amongst the healthcare community to make standard procedures easier for patients. The introduction of APIs is a step forward in that direction. A large number of healthcare providers and associated organizations have been using Electronic Health Records (EHR) but there was no interoperability between them. APIs accomplished that. It successfully established interoperability between the digital records of different healthcare providers and associated organizations.

APIs in healthcare allow different systems to communicate with each other. This is a crucial exchange of information done by sending and receiving data between different healthcare applications. If we were to consider health insurance companies, healthcare providers can easily upload the information of a patient’s medical coverage and the insurance company can easily use it to determine the coverage of a particular medication or treatment or to even verify health claims.

The emergence of APIs in Healthcare

Earlier, the healthcare industry lacked the technology to digitize its procedures. Several procedures were done manually by the medical staff. The manual work had started to make the industry sluggish and inefficient. This is a time before EHR, whenever a certain patient is required to be transferred to another medical facility, the former medical practitioner will have to call and inform the other facility, fax over the medical charts, and different information from different departments. Sometimes this information exchange would take longer and compromise the health of the patient even more.

The first fix to this system was EHR, and the second fix has been Medical API. API in healthcare has increased interoperability to the extent that one of the primary concerns of healthcare providers: the exchange of information has almost dissolved and has become the easiest operation. Healthcare providers want a healthcare analytical report that would provide the full picture of a patient’s medical condition. For that purpose, the software companies are constantly working on increasing interoperability through APIs.

Growth of API in Healthcare

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources API (or FHIR API) is being commonly used in industries to ensure that the data exchanged between two different systems is meaningful and readable by the medical staff. Software companies have been continuously trying to develop the best API framework that would help ease the complexities of healthcare data and its exchange. Centralization of data through API and collaboration with Artificial intelligence can improve patient care in multitudes.

The need of the hour is the creation of a standard protocol under which all sorts of Healthcare apps using the API framework can obtain data from the health apps after being authorized by the different healthcare organizations.

What’s ahead for API and Interoperability in Healthcare?

The healthcare industry is taking some crucial steps to implement the Standardized Data Model. Without implementing the model, interoperability cannot be increased between different healthcare providers due to their different standards of data models. This simple step would reduce that gap and the API will become a solid bridge that will increase interoperability to the next level and open numerous new options for both service providers and consumers.

APIs in healthcare will allow the patients the freedom to move through different healthcare providers without worrying about their medical data. As the data would follow the patient due to increased interoperability established by API. It will allow the healthcare providers to improve on the value-based treatment model and refer the patients to the right healthcare provider without following the sluggish procedures of calling manually and faxing over medical charts.

The development of APIs in healthcare will overall streamline medical operations. The health industry’s focus should be to improve a patient’s health and ensure their well-being. The severe advance in technology if put the to right use can help mankind proceed in that direction. If the medical operations are streamlined, patients will not have to carry the burden of being unwell but only focus on getting better physically and leading a healthy life.

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