It’s About Time: Open APIs Finally Burst Onto Healthcare’s Sluggish Scene

Sue Montgomery | Nuviun | June 9, 2014

In the midst of the struggles that we face with interoperability, efforts that support open API use may well hold the keys to the HIT Kingdom.

One of the major reasons that we struggle with interoperability is that software systems are not built in a manner in which they can talk to each other effectively. Developers may list a variety of reasons that this is necessary, or say it isn’t so—but the truth is that if systems could communicate in a safe and effective manner, we wouldn’t be in the interoperability mess we’re in. The good news is that there are some exciting efforts in progress to improve system-to-system communications, like the use of open APIs.

An Application Program Interface (API) is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing a web-based software application, which allows a software-to-software interface. When a software company releases its API to the public (open API), other software developers can design applications and products that will interact in a compatible manner. This makes it possible for a foundational software program, such as an EHR, to interface with a limitless number of applications that have been developed to specifically communicate with the defined API structure. In this way, one core application isn’t required to do everything, but can be enhanced by a variety of compatible applications which communicate with it...