API Aims to Hit Clinical Software With Disruptive Innovation

Brian Eastwood | SearchHealthIT.com | April 7, 2011

Clinical software is ripe for disruptive innovation. As Dr. Kenneth Mandl sees it, that innovation will arrive in the form of apps that reference a common application program interface (API) and as a result, can be added to or removed from any electronic health record (EHR) system.

Mandl, director at the Intelligent Health Laboratory of the Children's Hospital Informatics Program in Boston, is also co-director of the Substitutable Medical Apps, reusable technology (SMART) initiative, which is developing an open source API. (A Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects [SHARP] program grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology [ONC] provided funding for SMART.)

Once an application has integrated the SMART API, it can interact with and use information from any other clinical software using that API. SMART applications are Web-based -- they support the HTML 5 standard -- and access the SMART API using JavaScript or Representational State Transfer, or REST, calls. These apps, with their access to the data within EHR systems, could do a variety of things -- manage patients' medication, for example, or integrate census data with patient records.