What’s Really at the Heart of Interoperability and Application Programming Interfaces? One Guess.

By Stephen Valutkevich, MBA, marketing solutions manager, MEDITECH; part of the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase™ initiative

The HIMSS Interoperability Showcase, part of the HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, demonstrates interoperability – the ability for different technology systems to communicate – in real-time with actual products in the marketplace. The following guest post shares the impact seamless data exchange can have on patients, providers and caregivers.

Stephen Valutkevich

Healthcare isn’t just about data and clicks, outcomes and reports. Above all, it’s always about people. And interoperability is its cornerstone, supporting the exchange of information critical to the clinicians and patients who must navigate our massive, complex healthcare ecosystem.

Technology has enabled so much information to become free-flowing and instantly accessible. So it should come as no surprise that today’s consumers are expecting a “frictionless” care experience – meaning that their information goes where they go, without any obstacles in its way, similar to what they now get from other industries like banking and hospitality. And increasingly, their demands include full access to their medical records, from anywhere at any time.

The Consumerization of Health

Think about it: the average consumer now has a wealth of knowledge and spending power at their fingertips, thanks to their smartphones. Information technology has opened up a world where geographical distance from goods and services matters less than it ever has, at any time in our history. We can all access our finances and purchase a wide variety of goods in less than a minute, from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, using a device that easily fits in our pocket. Why wouldn’t we all want a similar experience with our healthcare?

And patients are not alone in expecting more convenience. Clinicians, too, want their electronic health record (EHR) to be mobile, quick, and easy to use. Technology should be making their jobs easier, going wherever they go, and shortening their workdays. Not burdening them with administrative tasks, or coming between them and their patients.

Application Programming Interfaces are Setting the Stage

Fortunately, application programming interfaces (APIs) are setting the stage for both clinicians and patients to experience better healthcare through interoperability. By creating app development platforms, EHR vendors can add value to their systems by sharing resources to support overall community growth, and encouraging innovation from outside sources. Smartphone apps are giving consumers around the world better and more convenient ways of seeing and using their own data. We are just beginning to see how new apps can also improve the healthcare experience.

According to MEDITECH’s Director of Development Niraj Chaudhry, we are already witnessing how standards-based APIs can make a positive impact on patients and clinicians, through the success of patient-generated health data.

“Incorporating patient-generated health data (PGHD) into the EHR enables providers to track at-risk populations and intervene as soon as there is concern,” he said. “At the same time, fun and easy apps are bringing useful information to consumers and empowering them to take more control over their health. People can monitor their own activity, nutrition, weight, blood pressure and other vital signs between doctor visits – which gives clinicians a more accurate picture of their progress over time. Clearly, the ability to share health information has significant value for clinicians and patients alike.”

Regulatory requirements are important, but ultimately, interoperability is about so much more than that. It’s really about integrating healthcare into our real lives, which of course are always moving and changing with the times. When EHR vendors use RESTful API-based architecture and FHIR APIs, they are supporting the creation of new technologies that can move and change with all of us on our journeys. It will improve the lives of those who deliver care, as well as those who receive it.

There’s no one way to achieve interoperability, and we are all facing challenges as our industry becomes more and more complex. But app development is an investment in our collective future, and one that is focused not just on data, but on the true drivers of healthcare: people.

It’s up to us to embrace these new opportunities that app development provides, and put consumers of information – patients and clinicians – back at the center of care, where they belong.

Find MEDITECH at Booth #3921

Sponsored content. 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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