APIs: The Digital Glue That Will Save Healthcare From Itself

March 21, 2017

// By Emily Kagan Trenchard //

Emily Kagan Trenchard, associate vice president of digital & innovations strategy, Northwell HealthI just got back from HIMSS 2017 in Orlando, Florida, and if this national conference of health IT professionals had a message, it was this: Patient engagement is the goal, so interoperability is the key. Why is that? Because to truly boost consumer engagement, we need to get our disconnected systems to work together smoothly, and that means we need to get them talking to one another.

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So what are we supposed to do? We have data in back-end systems that we need to power our websites. We have patient portals, event registration systems, and bill payment forms that all ask users for their information over and over again, creating a disjointed experience. It would be no easy feat to wipe the slate of applications clean and start from scratch.

The good news is we don’t have to. Most modern applications are now being built with application programming interfaces, or APIs. This is exactly the tool we need to achieve interoperability, as well as create new solutions to healthcare’s biggest problems.

Can APIs really help to transform healthcare and how patients experience it? Not on their own, certainly, but they can break down the siloes and facilitate a dialogue—between applications, between databases, between health systems. Here, Emily Kagan Trenchard, associate vice president of digital & innovations strategy at Northwell Health explains why APIs are essential in today’s healthcare technology environment, and why the industry should demand that solution providers build tools for interoperability. “We can no longer afford to have a thick curtain of vendor exclusivity wrapped around our data,” says Kagan Trenchard.

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