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Healthcare APIs boost interoperability, but health IT lags
This article is part of the Pulse issue of September 2017, Vol. 5, No. 5
As regulators pressure providers to improve interoperability among electronic health record systems and other sources of patient data, hospitals with legacy systems look to newer programming technology. U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) head Donald Rucker, M.D., pointed to healthcare APIs as a way for modern health IT to boost interoperability. The agency's interoperability efforts include data flowing from EHRs and reimbursement workflows to patient monitoring systems. Generally, an API is code that allows software applications to communicate with each other. Open APIs may prove particularly useful for healthcare because they're published on the internet and shared among developers. "There are lots of fascinating computer science technologies," Rucker said during a press briefing in July. "I think part of what we're trying to do with open APIs [and] with interoperability is let some of these newer technologies … [act] as an entrée into some of these data collections that are out there." Modern clashes ...
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APIs are new to some in healthcare, but other industries use them regularly. Interoperability will benefit if healthcare can get beyond its legacy systems.
EHR interoperability might swing in favor of cloud installations rather than on-premises approaches. Also, legacy systems may be left in the dust of patient data exchange.
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APIs are useful in improving EHR interoperability. From that perspective, electronic medical records that are certified by the ONC must adhere to API criteria.
As the amount of patient data in hospitals continues to grow, healthcare big data analytics can help improve patient safety by providing valuable insights in near-real time.