One aim of the 21st Century Cures Act recently passed by Congress is to make digital health data more accessible, emphasizing the use of APIs in healthcare to increase EHR interoperability and improve patient records matching. Aligning closely with the SMART Health IT focus on creating a app ecosystem for healthcare, the act states that a year from now, open APIs will be necessary for EHR system certification.
“… that the entity has in place data sharing programs or capabilities based on common data elements through such mechanisms as application programming interfaces without the requirement for vendor-specific interfaces;
[…] publish application programming interfaces and associated documentation, with respect to health information within such records, for search and indexing, semantic harmonization and vocabulary translation, and user interface applications; and
[…] demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Secretary that health information from such records are able to be exchanged, accessed, and used through the use of application programming interfaces without special effort, as authorized under applicable law.”
Read the full document at 21st Century Cures Act
About the Initiative
Guided by an 18-member steering committee, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has called on more than 100 leading researchers, scientists, and policy makers from across the United States to provide expert guidance on 19 priority focus areas for U.S. health policy. The resulting collection of discussion papers is organized around three overarching goals for the United States: better health and well-being; high-value health care; and strong science and technology.
“As the country orients toward alternative payment models, measuring individual health outcomes and disparities among vulnerable populations is crucial for driving innovation toward outcomes that matter most to individual lives.”
“Simply building APIs into EHR products so that data can be called by external applications will improve the current state. But the most important goal is that—as in an “app store”—an app written once will be able to run anywhere in the health care system and that a decision support service will be able to be created once and be called from any care point in the system. “
Read the Discussion Paper On Information Technology Interoperability and Use for Better Care and Evidence
President Obama’s Cancer Panel defines connected health as “the use of technology to facilitate the efficient and effective collection, flow, and use of health information.” In their 2016 report to the President, the panel highlights the benefits of using the SMART On FHIR open-access API for development of health applications.
“The Precision Cancer Medicine (PCM) app was designed to present patients’ genomic test results to oncologists in real time as a component of clinical practice, as well as provide links to external knowledge bases that otherwise would be unavailable through the native EHR system. PCM was piloted at Vanderbilt University and integrated into that institution’s EHR system. However, because the app was developed based on an open-access API (Substitutable Medical Applications and Reusable Technology, or SMART) and uses the emerging HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard, it could easily be deployed for other compatible EHR systems.”
“The Panel urges all stakeholders—health IT developers, healthcare organizations, healthcare providers, researchers, government agencies, and individuals—to collaborate in using connected health to reduce the burden of cancer through prevention and improve the experience of cancer care for patients and providers.”
Improving Cancer-Related Outcomes with Connected Health: A Report to the President of the United States from the President’s Cancer Panel. Bethesda (MD): President’s Cancer Panel; 2016.
A web-based version of this report is available at: https://PresCancerPanel.cancer.gov/report/connectedhealth