Health IT Task Force Synthesizes Open API Themes

Frank Irving | HealthIT Interoperability | February 11, 2016

"Would it be good for the API to allow the patient to impose limitations on what any particular API could seek?" asked the task force co-chair.

Health IT integration will reach a significant threshold when, as specified under 2015 Edition criteria, electronic health records systems and related tools must provide consumer-facing access to the Common Clinical Data Set via an application programming interface (API). Hard at work deciphering how consumers could leverage API technology to access patient data is the Joint API Privacy and Security Task Force.

Josh MandelThe group will issue recommendations to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) by the end of April, taking into account appropriate levels of privacy and security protection. The task force held virtual hearings at the end of January, during which more than 20 panelists representing consumer technology, healthcare delivery, health IT vendors and consumer advocates shared viewpoints on potential barriers to widespread adoption of open APIs. A follow-up meeting held Feb. 9 sorted through common themes captured during the expert panel discussions.

Josh Mandel, a biomedical informatics researcher at Harvard Medical School and co-chair of the API task force, led most of the session. Panelists indicated general support for API adoption, noted Mandel. “There are risks to deploying APIs, but there are also risks to exposing healthcare data without APIs, and sometimes APIs can give you more effective tools for mitigating those risks. Benefits are seen to widely outweigh the risks,” he explained...