From EHRs to Interoperability: A Healthcare Transition Framework

Sandeep Gupta
Fri 18 May 2018
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For providers, who often report difficulty with using EHR technology, APIs represent an opportunity for internal innovation. Open APIs can allow provider systems to build their own custom user interfaces in-house or shop around for a better solution than the interface that comes standard with their EHR system. EHRs could eventually become a platform on top of which other companies could build more tailored applications and improve usability for clinicians.

— Robert Huckman, faculty chair of the Harvard Business School Health Care Initiative; and Maya Uppaluru, policy advisor, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy [Source: Harvard Business Review]

Data integration and interoperability are the two facets of the same coin that almost every healthcare organization needs to nail. Today, the ongoing struggle for data integration is not just a necessity to solve, but also a regulatory requirement. And despite some progress, much needs to be done to enable real-time healthcare data integration and exchange.

There are over 200 EHR softwares today, hundreds of data formats, thousands of exchange mechanisms, and billions of patient records just spread across disparate systems helping no one. Standardized data is still a dream for many! With the abundance of raw data, a common state where physicians find themselves is ‘analysis-paralysis’. They can not manage all data by themselves as the constant deluge of raw data increases. Moreover, they don’t need just any data. They need the right data, in the right format, and at the right time!

Application Programming Interface (APIs) have successfully reflected the capabilities of being the driving force for digital transformation across several industries. Faster data exchange and simplicity have been the primary reason why APIs have gained so much traction. Still in its nascent stage in healthcare, APIs have created a prominent impact in other industries such as, retail, e-commerce, banking, media and entertainment among others by providing quick, seamless access to data from disparate sources.

Now, APIs are gradually expanding its footprint in the healthcare space. EHR adoption is a thing of the past, as more and more people look for interoperability and not just data. Given their success in the past, it is projected that APIs are going to have a marked presence in healthcare as the global healthcare API market is expected to grow at a 4.2% CAGR, going from US $163 mn in 2015 to US $235 mn by 2024.

The untapped potential of healthcare APIs

Integrating care across different healthcare organizations is progressively becoming the norm as:

  • consumers are demanding access to their own health information
  • escalating health costs are driving incentives for integration
  • technological advancements in healthcare are opening up opportunities

There is enough reason to believe that application programming interfaces (APIs) will expand the reach of healthcare across America. At present, healthcare is in need of concrete solutions and APIs can make a real impact with its disruptive power.

Irrespective of what you do, healthcare integration has become the first step. More often than not, these new found integration capabilities help in:

Interoperability: Wouldn’t it be better if we could just stay calm and never worry about how the information will be relayed? The patients don’t have to carry the hard copies everywhere they go and do physicians don’t have to sit in front of pools of data only to be confused!

True interoperability is connecting all of the information relevant to health system in the format it is needed and at the time it is required. APIs are the connecting bridge between two systems that can relay information without the user having to worry about the mechanisms involved.

Faster integration: The time crunch in healthcare has been a headache for all the stakeholders, and when combined with issues like restricted functionality and storage space, it becomes a puzzle. One which no one really wants to solve, but needs to! The revolution of APIs is so interesting because it can solve all of it and offer so much more. Cloud-based application and the capability to overcome the differences in technical nuances has been among the biggest bonuses of API revolution. Information retrieved using APIs is much faster and easier than any other mechanism.

Reduced errors: APIs reduce the redundancies in the network’s data and provide a simplistic way to manage data. It provides a secure connection with minimal possibilities of duplication.

Meaningful use: In 2017, the meaningful use stage 3 criteria was optional, however, it was made mandatory in 2018. The use of APIs will enable healthcare organizations to build bridges that can connect two or more systems by making them communicate, thus allowing data to seamlessly flow regardless of how each application was originally designed.

Reimbursements: Gathering information using APIs can prove highly beneficial in improving cost outcomes. And providers’ success in meeting meaningful use requirements affects the level of Medicare reimbursement that they receive. Thus, the financial incentives of providers deem it necessary for them to encourage the data exchange necessary to deliver better outcomes.

Patient experience: When patients have unprecedented access to their own health records, they will be able to make more informed decisions about their health and care. This concept exists in tandem with the push towards value-based care because when patients are actively involved in their care plans, providers are better able to tailor care, monitor progress, intervene at critical times and carry out precise clinical decision-making.

Inching closer to the solution

In the dynamically changing field of healthcare, where fast access to information is critical, and where decisions and challenges are truly matters of life-or-death, successful data integration is a must. As healthcare has evolved side by side with technology, we have developed technologies that will assist providers in retrieving the actionable value from raw data.

Today, when we say data in healthcare, it means understanding patients! We are going to be in an era where we will be pushing our boundaries, and healthcare will be governed by connected care teams.

And most importantly patients should get access to their data regardless of where they are in the country, and where their record resides. Because data has to be an enabler and a not barrier for healthcare.


To know more on how you can integrate care for your organization with rapid data integration using APIs, get a demo.

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Tags: Analytics, Healthcare, Integration, Interoperability, Value-based care
Sandeep Gupta
From EHRs to Interoperability: A Healthcare Transition Framework

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