APIs in Healthcare: To Use or Not To Use

Patient-facing applications as provided by healthcare APIs have given plethora of options for engaging with customers via mobile, web, as well as social media platforms. APIs are defined as protocols or programming routines which allows the software applications for sharing data or information. Organizations – specifically healthcare providers – have been using this tool for creating synchronized management of records, information, data, while saving time, money and resources.

Usage of APIs in Healthcare brings better sharing of patient information and creates a robust workforce management system

Benefits of using APIs in healthcare are multi-pronged.

  • Patients are given an enormous opportunity for using their own data. This helps in keeping a record of their health status, therefore aiding them in making informed decisions. Currently, patients are dealing with various portals for gaining information about their health, which can be a time consuming task. APIs definitely make it easier for both vendors and patients for retrieving information under one shed. Again, giving more viability in terms of access to critical information only provides higher revenue opportunity for the healthcare provider in the long-term.
  • APIs have become a pertinent part for accessing critical information that helps in defining important decisions for a patient. Providers get empowered by the interfaces as well as analytics that could then support the clinical decision making task.
  • APIs also allow researchers to get detailed clinical as well as claims data for creating various hypotheses. It helps them in identifying trends for creating a better experience for people who donate data for science.
  • Medical records are not organized at a single point, as patient information gets constantly shared and updated at doctor’s office, hospitals, pharmacy and every other outlet that processes payments for such transactions. And, scattered patient information is more prone to being stolen. Patient Management APIs help in aggregating such health-related data at a single place, reducing the probability of data theft as well.

However, digitization of information, together easier access to data, has given rise to instances of data breach and theft. As healthcare industry is subject to unique privacy and security environment, providers should focus on safeguarding patient data access by securing privacy, preferences and security of the APIs.

Together with this, applications created through APIs should use HMAC signature or MAC OAuth tokens over public unencrypted Wi-Fi networks for preventing interceptions. It should be continuously ensured that the API clients, gateways, and servers are always patched to lessen data breaches and other issues. Being complaint, healthcare companies should maintain regulatory standards as that of the PCI (for the protection of card payment options), and privacy directives such as EU Privacy Directive and HIPAA (to ensure confidentiality of health information).

Healthcare providers have been very slow in moving away from the third-party application providers, as the sector lacks developers who are able to provide robust APIs and other applications. This, of course, has created major challenges in providing safety and cost effectiveness in the past.
The immediate need of the sector is to understand the processes at hastening the task for adopting APIs in order to improve value-based service in the industry. For giving improved outcomes, providers would need better financial incentives. Together with this, incentive for exchanging data for higher value in research when adopted by the companies in the near future, would call for implementing APIs as a norm going forward.

For building a robust healthcare system, it has to rapidly evolve at a pace along with technology and science. APIs provide massive potential for increased patient empowerment and shared decision making between providers and patients that may transform the delivery of healthcare sector in the future in a humongous way.

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About the Author

Avancer Corporation is a systems integrator focusing on State of Art Identity and Access Management technology. With over a decade of experience of integrating IAM solutions for world’s leading corporations we bring you some insights through our articles on Avancer Corporation’s Official Blog


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