Unlocking the Steps to Build a Healthcare API Ecosystem

Healthcare APIs are now more in demand than before, seeing how well FHIR APIs work with healthcare applications. The rising need for healthcare APIs is due to a need for seamless data exchange between various applications and systems. Additionally, an increase in the adoption of digital healthcare services, therefore requires reliable APIs for smooth data exchange and integrations. A healthcare API ecosystem can be built to suffice the growing need for stable systems in healthcare organizations.

Importance of Healthcare APIs

With so many healthcare systems in place (EHRs, wearables, patient portals, telemedicine, and more) that can work on their own, it’s difficult for providers to obtain information easily. That’s when APIs come into the picture. They make the process of data transfer easy.

Suppose a patient uses a fitness tracker, then a healthcare mobile app with a robust API system can be used to add the patient’s data to EHR. The healthcare providers can later on check the data for any health disparities. Patients can also make use of an application programming interface to digitally share diagnostic data with their providers in real-time – such as blood sugar readings, BP, and other information.

Moving on, APIs help healthcare providers to simplify and improve care delivery. For instance, with a healthcare API ecosystem, a pediatrician can use an application that’s designed for pediatric care. The pediatrician can perform detailed analysis during checkups and offer feedback to parents on the child’s health.

Healthcare API ecosystems adhere to standards like FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) that offer healthcare organizations a common language to communicate. Another standard is the UCSDI (US Core Data for Interoperability), a set of standardized healthcare classes and data sets for health information exchange. The data flowing through the APIs is protected by rigid privacy and security rules of the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Steps to Build a Healthcare API Ecosystem

A well-designed healthcare API system can help organizations extend their common platform with tons of patients. The Healthcare API ecosystem allows organizations to manage their systems efficiently without needing to develop them from scratch.

Having an API ecosystem means that websites, patient portals, healthcare apps, telehealth, EHRs, IoMT, etc., are all connected and developed under one interface. Let’s look at how to create this healthcare API ecosystem.

1. Understand Your Users

Before divulging in creating a healthcare API ecosystem, understand who your users are, what issues they’re trying to solve, and how they will interact with your healthcare API. This can be done by conducting user research, defining user scenarios and stories, and identifying user personas. This process helps to detect key features, requirements, and functionalities of your API, along with pain points and challenges faced by your users.

2. Have a Monetization Strategy

The more connected APIs are to applications, developers, and healthcare organizations the better revenue cycle it has. So, to foster a healthcare API ecosystem, it’s essential to create a monetization strategy. It helps healthcare facilities to understand how the revenue stream works. Some of the popularly used monetization strategies for APIs are:

  1. Subscription Model: Users pay a recurring fee monthly or yearly to access the API.
  2. Pay-as-you-go Model: Billing is done based on the API usage.
  3. Freemium Model: The basic version of API is ordered for free with limited features and functionalities.

3. Enforce API Interoperability Standards

New API interoperability standards are emerging and they focus on building a seamless data exchange system. As per the JASON report, there’s a rise in interest for standard-based APIs that may be supported across healthcare services. One of the surging standards is HL7’s FHIR which holds promise for becoming one of the widely used standards. Take a look at the list of standards mentioned by the CMS.

Source: CMS

API-based interoperability needs to pay attention to implementation details such as security models, API operations, data transport medium, specific data resources, and more.

4. Build Your Healthcare API Ecosystem

The next step is to start building your healthcare API ecosystem. One of the approaches to kick-start this is to use an API management tool. This tool helps to develop, monitor, design, test, analyze, and secure APIs. It offers a set of software hosted on the cloud or in hybrid environments. It helps to govern an entire API ecosystem and handle the lifecycle of an API from beginning to end. API management tools undertake the following tasks:

  1. Design and Development: Provide a set of features and tools for developers to design and build API products.
  2. Developer Portals: Site where developers can credentials and information needed to use APIs. It offers develop-facing analytics, interactive documents, app approval status, monetization requirements, and other tools.
  3. API Gateways: It is an entry point for API calls that arrive from the client side.
  4. Testing: All kinds of testing like functional, performance, and security.
  5. Policy Management: Defines the operation of an API, how it caches data, translates protocols, etc.
  6. Security: Offers standards for abuse prevention, authentication, authorization, and more.
  7. Analytics and Monitoring: Allows to measure operational metrics, increase speed of API, deployment, revenue, and more.

5. Test the Final Product

API testing is the practice of verifying that an API is performing as expected. API tests can be run by developers manually or with the help of an API testing tool, and each type of API test plays a unique role in maintaining API reliability.

In the past, API testing was done at the end of a development cycle, but more and more teams are running tests early in the API life cycle. This “shifting left” approach to API testing supports rapid iteration by allowing teams to identify and resolve issues as they are introduced.

If you’re looking to incorporate healthcare APIs in your healthcare organization, then just connect with Arkenea, one of the leading healthcare software development companies in the USA. From healthcare application and website development to a range of software products, we offer it all. With over 13 years of experience in the industry, we understand what the sector demands and we deliver world-class products that match your standards.