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APIs are proxy layers that sit on top of healthcare systems, databases, and applications. These layers allow these applications to be accessed, or repurposed, in other parts of the enterprise. Healthcare technology is complex. Most health organizations leverage a wide range of applications, databases, ERPs, and software. This technology must accommodate clinics, hospitals, customers, oversight boards, and the broader enterprise. APIs allow greater interoperability between these systems and environments. They also provide a management and analytics layer for managing the entire healthcare digital ecosystem. There are three general categories of healthcare APIs including internal, external, and third-party APIs.
Internal Healthcare APIs
An internal API is built within healthcare organizations to increase interoperability, efficiency, or analytics visibility of applications, services, or digital tools. This may include building APIs on top of homegrown patient-centered apps, local storage servers, or clinic management software.
Healthcare enterprises can simplify the management of their internal IT resources by building APIs across their internal systems. They can then track and manage all systems from a single API management solution. Some healthcare enterprises also develop APIs on internal tools in order to make them available for a partner or public consumption.
External Healthcare APIs
Oftentimes, a healthcare organization will create APIs for external consumption. These externally-available APIs can be designed for doctors, partners, insurance providers, or application developers. For example, a hospital may offer a symptom checker tool for external consumption in order to improve care outcomes and boost brand recognition.
Third-party APIs reside outside the digital footprint of an organization. These publicly available APIs are often consumed by healthcare companies to improve their digital offerings for patients or providers. For example, it is common for health insurance companies to consume Fitbit, Samsung Health, or Google Fit APIs so customers can sync their fitness activity with their insurance account to redeem discounts or rewards.
Benefits of APIs in the Healthcare Industry
Healthcare APIs are helping organizations to create better customer experiences, but they are also creating major interoperability gains. They do this by connecting disparate applications with APIs through a proxy layer. There are dozens of benefits to healthcare APIs. Here are some of the top benefits.
Unified API platforms provide security standards and features that improve digital ecosystem security at healthcare organizations. In turn, this allows for more rapid connectivity between EHRs and other platforms. This helps EHR platforms avoid siloing their data in closed infrastructures and encourages seamless data integration with third parties.
APIs allow providers to access applications and data in EHRs in new and innovative ways. And APIs allow healthcare providers to share patient information with other providers securely and quickly.
Patients can use APIs to electronically share diagnostic information with doctors or clinics in real-time. While not all providers offer these features, sharing blood pressure readings, blood sugar levels, and other health data from patient devices is likely to be common practice in the coming years