2019: The Year of Integration through Application Programming Interfaces

Tamara StClaire, PhD, chief strategy and innovation officer, GuideWell, Florida Blue; a HIMSS social media ambassador

Follow @drstclaire

Tamara StClaire, PhD

I’m claiming 2019 as the year of integration.

For the last several years of HIMSS global conference, interoperability has been a major theme and is one of the highest-trending topics in Health IT. I believe we’re starting to see significant momentum in a positive direction through application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs provide the means for one software program to access the services of another. Technology giants and cloud companies are infusing smart services into everyday products and applications for consumer interoperability through open APIs.

This trend is finally advancing into healthcare, generating a new wave of digital possibilities. Healthcare organizations seeking to create interoperability between internal apps, electronic health records and other data exchange tools, are increasingly turning to APIs to manage the flow of data and information between historically disparate and fragmented systems.

It’s never been a matter of if data interoperability will happen in the current healthcare landscape, but rather how quickly it will happen. The government is now providing API services, Blue Button 2.0, for digital companies to utilize up to four years of Medicare Part A, B, and D data on 53 million beneficiaries.

Electronic health record (EHR) companies are also in the game with programs empowering developers to build solutions on top of their EHR platforms. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has thrown down the gauntlet when Administrator Seema Verma spoke at The Blue Button Developer Conference in D.C. calling for the industry to embrace the API-first open data strategy.

But even with the promise of APIs, there are challenges to adoption.

  1. Access to relevant data, including de-identified data is not easily available and there’s a lack of consistency in data formats
  2. Infrastructure: systems tend to still leverage circa 1980s and 1990s architectures
  3. Inefficient processes reflect the systems that must be navigated around
  4. Security concerns around real-time data exchange
  5. Current business models that would be upended

Support for APIs is growing and stakeholders across the industry are starting to take notice. At the 2019 HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, there are several sessions that are relevant and will help you understand the technology, opportunity and challenges. Join the excitement and the dialogue!


State of the Healthcare API Economy
Unlocking EHRs: How APIs Usher in a New Data Exchange Era
The Blueprint for Putting Patients at the Center of APIs
Data Interoperability

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.


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