The recent move by the major EHR (Electronic Health Record) vendors to open up their systems through APIs (Application Programming Interface) launches a new era in healthcare, seriously.
Electronic Health Records (EHR) have been in use for many years. When most of the earlier EHR solutions were developed, the Internet was a novelty and the emphasis was on security and standalone systems. This mindset has generally prevailed in healthcare. All this is changing, with APIs
So what exactly is an API?
We use APIs every day, while booking a flight, searching for a hotel room, making a reservation at a restaurant etc. It is the APIs that enable a service like Expedia to “talk” to hundreds of hotels and bring us the results that best suit our search.
But where is the gold?
The article referenced above goes on to say “Finally, the availability of data would lead to the development of an entirely new group of health care innovators: developers who do not have particular expertise in health care but, when given secure access to clinical data from the industry, could create tools of significant value.”
The availability of data would lead to the development of an entirely new group of health care innovators
API enabled EHRs
First and foremost are the major EHR providers themselves. While all of the major EHR vendors have announced their API platforms and initiatives; none, it seems, is ready for mass adoption.
Leaders are already emerging in this domain, McKesson for example has chosen Apigee to help add API capability to their systems. Apigee, by the way, got acquired by Google…(some guys are better in spotting gold than others!)
Single API access
The second market segment for APIs addresses the interoperability between organizations. hospitals, labs, pharmaceutical companies, registries etc.
As a healthcare provider, researcher or equipment manufacturer you need to access this newly available data by using APIs. Perhaps the only option for you is to work with each EHR system independently using its APIs and then consolidate the data. This is like searching for available flights on dozens of different airline’s websites, one by one.
IOT and Big Data
The third major market that is opening up is big data and IOT, with access to all of this data companies will soon have more data than they can handle, store or make sense of.
Add to this the fact that many of the new healthcare hardware being shipped today comes fully equipped with IOT capability. The healthcare IOT is not about refrigerators that order pizza for you, it is about life monitoring systems that can relay critical information automatically to save lives.
And if you want to search for gold in this Wild West be wary that it is a land for the quick or the dead!