One of the promises of electronic health records is easy access-to-medical information for both patients and healthcare providers. Although your doctor collects and stores your medical information electronically, that fact doesn't mean you have easy electronic access. Nor does it mean you easily can share those records with other doctors or pharmacists.
Looking to remedy that, API platform developer Apigee Monday released Apigee Health APIx.
This software is designed to provide the API infrastructure to help healthcare providers create applications that let patients and healthcare providers securely access and share their information.
Coincidentally, Apigee's release of this API platform for healthcare comes just one week after the release of stage 3 rules for meaningful use of electronic health records by the US government, including a rule specifying the need for interoperability.
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"Healthcare's movement toward open APIs is an extraordinarily big deal," Aneesh Chopra told Information Week in an interview. Chopra was the first CTO of the United State. He currently serves as an Apigee advisor and CEO of Hunch Analytics, a Virginia-based incubator specializing in healthcare analytics.
"It directly addresses one of the top challenges we've faced over the last several years. This open API requirement puts a strategy in place that lets us finish the job we started [with electronic health records]."
The Apigee Health APIx builds on FHIR, a healthcare-specific draft for data formats and exchange that ensures the security of healthcare data. Apigee's Health APIx also features a healthcare developer portal. The whole package is designed to make it easier for healthcare organizations to develop secure applications that enable authorized access to patient information.
"Patients should be able to connect an app of their choice to their own health data," Chopra told Information Week. "The announcement that Apigee is making is an important step to accelerating healthcare's move to open APIs."
Some healthcare organizations are already onboard with implementing this technology. For instance, Project Argonaut is a private-healthcare-sector initiative aimed at advancing the adoption of open interoperability standards in healthcare using the FHIR standard. Participants include Intermountain Healthcare, the Mayo Clinic, and McKesson. McKesson is one of the early customers of the Apigee Health APIx.
"Apigee is one of many stakeholders working to bring APIs to life," Chopra said. "This is particularly helpful as healthcare is relatively new to APIs."
Not all healthcare organizations are onboard. Cultural resistance remains at some organizations that view these government rules as annoying obstacles that distracts from their main mission, Chopra told me. Some of these organizations may delay implementation as they wait for a new US presidential administration to come into power and change the rules.
Short Term Benefits and Long Term Goals
In the shorter term, the interoperability rules will enable patients and doctors to have easier access to the information they need. In the longer term such information could be used to drive President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative, a program that leverages electronic health records and other data sets to take a big data approach to medical research and ultimately deliver the best treatment options for individual patients.
Goals include more and better treatments for cancer and the creation of a voluntary national research cohort. So both the short-term and long-term effects are intended to improve patient care and health outcomes.
"We need to get a holistic picture of the patient," Aashima Gupta, vice president of digital transformation for healthcare at Apigee, told Information Week in an interview. Gupta is also a past executive director of digital technology incubation and solutions at Kaiser Permanente. "All the data is in different data silos. We want to help healthcare to connect the different silos."