Step-by-Step Effective API Strategy For Healthcare

API is a buzz phrase today and has become a key aspect in agile businesses and digital transformation. “APIs will deliver advanced services, such as wider usage of currencies and digital wallets, enabling machine learning to deploy sophisticated operations and supporting conversational capabilities,” as stated in a report by McKinsey. 

APIs are being used in the healthcare sector for ameliorating security and privacy, easy access to EHRs, streamline data sharing, for more storage space, and enhanced integration. Healthcare APIs are created to protect web applications, verify site reliability, and identify attack surface, hence its crucial to initialize a robust strategy while developing a healthcare API.

Strategy For Developing an Effective Healthcare API

1. Determine Requirements of a Healthcare Organization

Determining requirements is the key step while devising an API strategy for healthcare sector. Consider the following aspects while gathering requirements –

1. Target audience – nurses, pharmacists, physicians, patients, researchers, or any other.

2. Needs of target audience – security, integrations, remote care, etc.

3. Expectations from healthcare API – response time, availability, and performance.

4. Concerns to be addressed for API security.

Every group in the healthcare sector demand varied set of requirements from a healthcare API. Healthcare providers, including nurses and pharmacists need API to save time by automating tasks such as scheduling appointments, online bill payments, or retrieving patient data.

Likewise, for patients APIs are helpful while switching doctors or providers, and handles the process of consulting a healthcare provider.

2. Accurate and Easy-to-Grasp Documentation

Healthcare organizations are reliant on API integrations, applications, and websites. An easy-to-grasp and accurate API documentation sets high expectations, educates users, and attracts developers to work on new projects.

Healthcare API documentation needs to be updated constantly, if failed to do so, then users get frustrated while looking for features that no longer exist or trying to use features that lack documentation. These situations result in an API that no longer gets the engagement needed. Consider using automated tools to keep API documentation and functionality in sync.

Pivotal sections of an API documentation encompasses –

1. Overview: A brief outline about the API, its attributes, and uniqueness.

2. Authentication: Describes ways to get access credentials and how to make requests. This is crucial from the healthcare security perspective.

3. Resources: Core section of the API and contains parameters, endpoints, and other details. Users tend to interact with API resources.

4. Error Messages: Provide information on the possible errors encountered while interacting with APIs, thus allowing users to integrate and learn about the technology easily.

5. Terms of Use: A legal agreement that includes constraints, conditions, rate limits, and how to consume services.

Furthermore, understand the purpose, audience (healthcare providers, patients, researchers, developers), and scope of an API documentation, as this will help to craft an accurate document that address healthcare API needs.

Maintain consistency while using terminologies throughout the document, avert from using jargons, and stick to universally accepted terms and conventions. By including interactive examples and other resources, the learning curve of API surges rapidly.

3. Design and Run a Pilot Healthcare API Program

A pilot healthcare API program helps to check how the technology works before investing in a full scale solution. A pilot program mitigates risks of wasting resources and upsetting customers.

A pilot healthcare API can be successfully tested and tried for ROI and usability, resulting in reveling potential problems. Developers can then determine solutions or strategies to overcome these challenges or refrain from moving forward with the API, thus saving time, money, and resources for a bigger program.

Feedback offered through a pilot API program helps to develop new concepts and ideas to ameliorate it further. It also renders expected budget and timeframe to meet deadlines and API project requirements.

4. Track Success of API

The success of an API strategy is measured by using vanity metrics such as number of API calls and number of developers. Consider tracking the effectiveness of an API strategy through a holistic approach. Healthcare organizations can measure the success of APIs through the following metrics –

1. Uptime

2. CPU Usage

3. Memory Usage

4. Request Per Minute

5. Average and Max Latency

6. Errors Per Minute

7. API Usage Growth

8. Unique API Consumers

9. Top Customers by API Usage

10. API Retention

Further, API tracking helps to analyze performance from multiple perspectives – QA, DevOps, development, etc. The DevOps focus on the scalability of the performance load of queries, while quality assurance scrutinize literal data exchanged to validate estimated results and the structure.

Tracking API in the healthcare sector helps to alert and detect warnings, errors, and failed API authentication to assure secure data exchange. In case a healthcare application depends on third party API, then ensure that these APIs are adhering to the SLA (Service Level Agreements).

5. Manage Security and Privacy of Healthcare API

Without appropriate API security measures, developers and healthcare organizations are risking patient data exposure and cybercrimes. APIs offer users access to a lot of data, as compared to limited access provided by a website or email interface.

The unauthorized access to data violates privacy rules laid down by the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) act. There’s always a risk of privacy violation, even though APIs are secured; this situation is encountered when patients access protected health information (PHI) without having prior knowledge about HIPAA regulations.

Further, patients share their health data to third party applications and expose themselves for a possible cyberattack or breach. Risk mitigation assures that ePHI requests by medical practitioners, patients, or anyone else is approved in accordance with the legal requirements under HIPAA act.

By establishing security and privacy policies that are constant with the PMI privacy principles or security principles to address security concerns. Administrative and technical policies ensure that access to the healthcare APIs is verified before granting credentials. Similar actions are taken while giving access to health information to third party vendors.

Data integrity protection safeguards any unauthorized alterations made to the healthcare data that’s accessible through API. EHR that interacts with API are protected against vulnerabilities, and technical authorization controls individuals privacy preferences.

6. Third-Party API Integration

Third party API integration helps to build efficiency, save time, and expenses by accessing functionalities that would otherwise take time to create from scratch. Third-party API integrations makes the lives of physicians, patients, and developers easier by cutting down overhead expenses.

This allows to monitor health conditions better and offers more precise data to providers, and begin treatment. Developers leverage third-party integrations to build intuitive software, whereas doctors and researchers use it to connect with patients and for medical research. Data can be integrated to leverage fitness trackers and other smart healthcare applications by connecting through EHR.

Furthermore, third-party integrations helps to make better data-driven decisions for functionality of software/application. This is done through analytics component such as usage patterns, device types, and geographical locations. These insights are a boon for healthcare organizations that are looking for better application usability and launched app MVP.

Sensing the importance of APIs, numerous healthcare organizations are putting together an API strategy for better healthcare and treatment plans.

Arkenea – a top-rated company that specializes in healthcare software development, offers third-party API integrations for video conferencing, payments provider, chat APIs, ePrescriptions, Redox Engine, EMR, and any other specifications. We got you covered!