Seamless data exchanges play a pivotal role in allowing healthcare providers to make advancements in improving customer care, streamlining operations, and using innovative solutions to treat patients. Think about the fitness trackers, patient apps, pharmacy software, and tools now prevalent in modern healthcare environments.
Healthcare APIs allow everyone, from patients to medical researchers, to tap into relevant medical information from their smartphones or other mobile devices. Consensus Cloud Solutions helps make this possible by providing comprehensive tools to improve healthcare interoperability.
That’s become possible thanks to the evolution of Healthcare Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) within the industry. New interoperability rules introduced in 2020 by the US Department of Health and Human Services advanced data sharing between healthcare systems and granted patients new control over their care through mobile applications.
Let’s look at the fundamental principles and benefits of Healthcare APIs. In addition, this article explores the real-world application of Healthcare APIs and how they allow healthcare providers to reshape the future of healthcare delivery and patient-centric solutions.
What Is Healthcare API
Healthcare APIs serve as digital bridges connecting disparate parts of the healthcare ecosystem. They interpret communications between systems speaking different operating languages. From there, they work as a data exchange agent.
That’s how a hospital can send a digital request to a pharmacy to find additional information on a patient. They allow providers to adhere to confidentiality rules by facilitating the secure and efficient exchange of information like medical records, patient information, and clinical data.
The main purpose of an API healthcare is to allow different software applications and healthcare systems to communicate with each other. Healthcare APIs evolved because healthcare providers had difficulty dealing with the complexity of gathering and handling healthcare data for the following reasons:
- The fragmented nature of data held in multiple information silos
- The difficulty providers had compiling a complete picture of a patient’s healthcare history
- Inconsistencies in the technology used by different providers
Healthcare APIs open new ways for healthcare organizations to use and manage electronic health records and other medical data, like:
- Letting users share essential clinical documents more easily
- Enabling the secure transmission of information between different health systems and regions
- Increasing innovation in the use of products and tools created using healthcare APIs
Understanding the critical components of Healthcare APIs helps you understand the power and benefits they provide.
Improved data access
Healthcare APIs let authorized users access and retrieve patient data from different resources. This allows healthcare providers to make informed decisions about patient care.
The APIs protect data shared between healthcare companies, clinics, and laboratories, an exchange that’s critical when coordinating patient care.
Using APIs promotes interoperability principles by confirming software used in different healthcare systems can work together effectively. That improves patient care and enhances healthcare operations efficiency.
Better patient engagement
APIs give patients control over how their healthcare records get shared. Healthcare APIs allow patients to send information to other healthcare providers or through third-party applications, fostering a more patient-centric healthcare approach.
The Importance of Healthcare APIs
Healthcare APIs have become critical in alleviating data fragmentation across various healthcare systems and institutions. In the past, digital information in places like healthcare electronic records (EHRs), pharmacy databases, and wearable health devices worked in isolation. Those data silos got in the way of allowing providers to exchange critical information to benefit patients.
Healthcare APIs create bridges between these silos, helping with the seamless data exchange between healthcare companies and other interested parties. Removing isolated data repositories is critical to giving doctors the information needed to make decisions that improve patient outcomes.
Suppose an individual goes to the emergency room for treatment. The doctor on staff benefits significantly from quick access to their medical history. Otherwise, they could inadvertently give them a drug or treatment that worsens the patient’s condition. Thanks to Healthcare APIs, that same doctor could quickly obtain digital health records that provide critical info on treating the patient.
Healthcare APIs adhere to data standards like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), which provides healthcare company operating systems with a common language for communication. There’s also the US Core Data for Interoperability (UCSDI), a set of standardized healthcare classes and data elements used for nationwide health information exchange.
The standards for USCDI align with those found in FHIR. Data passing through healthcare API, or protected health information (PHI), is subject to privacy and security standards, such as those outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The goal is to prevent anyone from gaining unauthorized access to patient data.
Use Cases of Healthcare APIs
The need for seamless data workflows between healthcare organizations has expanded the healthcare API market. For example, Google offers the Cloud Healthcare API, a fully managed service that gives organizations various tools to harness cloud computing, data analytics, and machine learning. Let’s look at some of the use cases for Healthcare APIs to demonstrate how they reshape patient care, healthcare delivery, research, and public health initiatives.
Patient Data Exchange
Healthcare APIs facilitate patient data exchange through the creation of patient portals. They give patients control over their health by letting them access medical records. Patients also decide who gains access to their data and whether to share their health records with other healthcare providers.
Providers also benefit from the enhanced ability to coordinate care for a patient with others involved in their care. Patients with complex health conditions typically receive medical treatment from multiple providers and specialists. Healthcare APIs allow healthcare professionals to quickly share information regarding a patient’s care.
For example, a patient with diabetes may see a primary care physician, an endocrinologist, and a nutritionist. Because of Healthcare APIs, each of these professionals can view essential EHR data for a unified view of a patient’s condition, treatment history, and medications.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use of telemedicine. Patients became more comfortable with contacting doctors remotely for treatment. Healthcare APIs made the shift possible by letting patients schedule virtual appointments. They integrate video conferencing solutions into a provider’s telemedicine platform.
Telemedicine platforms use Healthcare APIs to securely transmit patient data, allowing doctors to consult with patients virtually while complying with healthcare data privacy regulations. Those doctors could access patients’ health records, verifying they had all the information necessary to make more accurate diagnoses and treatment recommendations.
Remote patient monitoring
Thanks to API software, patients can share data from wearable health devices and other monitoring tools, allowing providers to track their progress remotely. That’s a critical telemedicine component, especially when looking after patients with chronic health conditions or those recovering from surgeries.
Devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers keep track of vital signs and other essential health metrics like:
- Blood Oxygen
- Heart Rate
- Sleep Time
- Respiratory Rate
Providers can respond quickly if something changes in a patient’s condition, lowering the risk of a complication developing. Providers can also set Healthcare APIs to send notifications if specific health metrics fall outside an acceptable range.
Clinical decision report
Clinical decision-making in healthcare can get complicated quickly. Providers often have to tap into multiple data sources. They must also account for a patient’s medical history, standard medical guidelines, and updated research findings to make informed decisions about diagnosing and treating a patient.
Healthcare APIs are critical in facilitating those efforts in a dynamic environment. They help aggregate patient information by connecting to data sources like EHRs, laboratory systems, and radiology reports. APIs can pull that information together and give healthcare professionals a holistic view of a patient’s health history.
These APIs provide real-time access to patient data. That’s crucial when a patient is experiencing an emergency, and time is a significant factor. Rapid access to patient records can make a huge difference in patient outcomes.
Public health agencies are critical to helping protect society and improve the well-being of communities. Health APIs have played a significant role in recent years in facilitating secure health data exchanges for purposes like promoting health initiatives and studying population health. They contribute to health information exchanges between healthcare institutions, government agencies, and researchers.
One of the most significant uses for Healthcare APIs in the public health sector is disease surveillance and outbreak response. They help agencies collect and share information on disease prevalence, symptoms, and spread in different geographical areas. That kind of data is critical to the early detection of outbreaks, giving health agencies a chance to quickly respond to containing diseases before they spread to a broader population.
When it comes to immunizations, Healthcare APIs give providers access to a patient’s most current vaccination records. That helps individuals receive timely vaccination reminders and booster shots. Those same Healthcare APIs let public health agencies receive vaccination data to track vaccine coverage rates and locate areas where more education may be necessary.
Researchers use Healthcare APIs to anonymize and aggregate health data in epidemiological studies. That helps them better understand disease patterns, various risk factors, and transmission dynamics. Their ability to study disease helps develop more effective public health interventions.
Healthcare APIs also help researchers deal with the sheer volume and complexity of healthcare records. They simplify the process by:
- Structured data extraction — APIs extract structured information from EHRs like patient demographics, medical histories, and lab results.
- Natural language processing (NLP) — Researchers can gain insights from unstructured clinical notes and reports thanks to the NLP capabilities in some Healthcare APIs. They perform sentiment analysis and patient sentiment extraction. Healthcare APIs with this ability can help identify trends and patterns hidden in text data.
Genomic research, a field dedicated to uncovering individuals’ genetic predispositions to diseases, receives a boost from Healthcare APIs because of their ability to:
- Access genomic databases — Researchers can use APIs to extract information from large genomic databases like genetic variations, sequencing data, and disease associations. This helps accelerate genetic research and helps locate medications that zero in on specific genetic medical issues.
- Perform scalable processing — Healthcare APIs use scalable cloud infrastructure capable of processing and analyzing large genomic datasets, reducing the burden on researchers.
Benefits of Healthcare APIs
Let’s look at how Healthcare APIs have remade the healthcare industry.
Improved Patient Care
Healthcare APIs make seamless access to patient information from sources like EHRs, wearable devices, and diagnostic tools possible. That rapid access to comprehensive patient information extends the ability of providers to make informed decisions, which improves the ability to accurately diagnose a patient’s condition and develop more effective personalized treatments.
The ability to bridge data solo gaps with Healthcare APIs helps with communication between vastly different healthcare systems. That level of interoperability lowers errors and gives providers accurate patient care information.
Healthcare APIs integrate clinical guidelines, diagnostic tools, and evidence-based research into healthcare workflows. They also allow providers to provide more hands-on care regardless of distance, thanks to Healthcare APIs tracking patient health metrics from wearable devices.
Many healthcare companies use Healthcare APIs to streamline administrative tasks like claims processing, eligibility verification, and appointment scheduling. That efficiency lowers administrative overhead, freeing staff to cover more critical tasks, leading to higher cost savings for healthcare organizations.
Healthcare APIs let healthcare analytics identify high-risk patients and offer proactive intervention through early preventative care. That goes a long way toward mitigating the development of chronic diseases, which lowers long-term healthcare costs for patients and providers.
Remote patient monitoring, made possible through Healthcare APIs, can reduce hospital readmissions by giving doctors the chance to intervene when there’s a change in a patient’s status. Access to real-time patient health data lets providers address issues before they escalate to the point where patients must endure costly hospitalizations.
Increased patient engagement
Healthcare APIs offer patients ownership of securing their medical records. Patient portals allow them to quickly pull up test results, request prescription refills, and communicate directly with providers involved in their care. Individuals can also hook wearable devices to patient portals to make monitoring health and fitness goals more seamless.
Those same portals can receive patients’ personalized health information and educational resources thanks to Healthcare APIs. Individuals gain access to knowledge that helps them understand what’s happening with their health and the treatment plans recommended by their doctors.
Developers use Healthcare APIs as a foundation for creating innovative new healthcare applications. They accelerate the development of solutions like telehealth platforms, health monitoring services, and new diagnostic
Healthcare APIs encourage providers to use standardized data exchange protocols. That helps with collaboration among technology companies, healthcare providers, and researchers. These same entities can use Healthcare APIs to receive real-world data for research purposes and clinical trials critical to developing new medications and disease treatments.
Using APIs makes the healthcare ecosystem more agile and capable of responding to challenges like pandemics more quickly. That’s more necessary than ever as the world adjusts to an ever-changing landscape regarding the spread of disease.
Trends In Healthcare APIs of AI
With EHRs becoming common in places like hospitals and physicians’ clinics, Healthcare APIs have helped the healthcare industry start catching up regarding technological advancement. They allow providers to tackle key issues and achieve the goal of assisting people to live healthier lives. Below are trends to watch regarding the use of Healthcare APIs.
Data security and privacy
The use of Healthcare APIs brings concerns regarding data privacy and security. There’s always the risk of a data breach putting sensitive patient health information in the hands of a hacker. Providers are looking harder for APIs with robust security measures to prevent unauthorized access.
The healthcare industry must comply with strict standards around patient data privacy. All healthcare APIs must comply with those regulations. Otherwise, providers can find themselves subject to significant fines and penalties.
Measures being put in place to mitigate the risks associated with Healthcare APIs include:
- Encryption of data transmitted through APIs
- Robust authentication mechanisms like multi-factor authentication (MFA)
- Audit trails that track who accessed patient data and when it happened
- Security audits and penetration testing to locate vulnerabilities in Healthcare APIs
- Compliance monitoring to ensure regulatory compliance with laws like HIPAA
Public health apis
Many health agencies are embracing open data initiatives by releasing datasets containing health information to the public. That helps promote transparency and collaboration, which are essential when managing a public health issue.
Researchers, developers, and innovators use Public Health APIs to create solutions that address serious health issues. The availability of open health data promotes innovation and evidence-based decision-making.
Patients with chronic illnesses are more at risk for developing specific diseases. Healthcare companies can seamlessly integrate AI algorithms with pathology systems. That helps with detecting subtle abnormalities in pathology, contributing to better diagnostic accuracy. The trend could potentially speed up a doctor’s ability to accurately assess a patient’s condition.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Healthcare APIs support transmitting information from patient wearable devices to an AI system. That can speed up the detection of any deviations from health metric baseline values. When noted, patients and doctors receive alerts about the current problem.
Simplify Your Healthcare API Connectivity of AI
Consensus Cloud Solutions is a trusted source for transforming, enhancing, and securing the exchange of digital information. Our advanced solutions give healthcare providers everything needed to provide optimal patient care. Click here to learn more about integrating Healthcare APIs into your environment.