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The value of an API in healthcare

A growing number of healthcare providers and many other companies in the healthcare industry are finding uses for web and mobile apps: to deliver vital information to patients; to work more intelligently with partner providers, patient support services, insurance companies, and government agencies; and to use their data resources in new ways. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) allow healthcare companies to do all these things — while inspiring innovative developers to use healthcare integration to create new applications, improve existing services, and work more efficiently.

Healthcare APIs that power patient-facing applications create new ways for providers to engage and connect with those patients through web, mobile, and social apps. And by developing internal APIs, healthcare companies can offer their employees and partners new tools that streamline operations and give patients a higher quality of care. In this dynamic field — where fast access to information is critical, and where decisions and challenges are truly matters of life-or-death importance — successful API strategies are a must.

How can APIs help healthcare companies?

Connecting with physicians and patients

Whether you’re a health information company that wants to enable web and mobile access to diagnostic tools, a research institution searching for new ways to connect with physicians and patients, or a hospital or healthcare practice that wants to provide faster, more up-to-date patient information, APIs can make it easier for you to interact with your target audience.

Through the health apps and services they enable, APIs can help patients collect and report health data — for instance, a person with diabetes could record blood-sugar levels — so doctors have more information when making diagnoses. APIs can also facilitate the recording and management of physician-reported data, and they can enable analysis of a healthcare environment to help decision-makers improve efficiency and cut overhead costs.

As an example, take the hypothetical case of a medium-size private hospital. Over the years, it has maintained exhaustive records about patients’ health, as well as about its own operations. An API could allow patients to easily and securely (with HIPAA compliance) access their own healthcare records and even make necessary updates. Developers could create apps that allowed patients with chronic conditions (such as type 2 diabetes) to monitor their health and receive important reminders about medications, doctor visits, and even new clinical trials. They could also create apps that, for instance, helped patients better understand and comply with aftercare instructions following a hospital stay. Additional APIs can allow the hospital to share resources from government bodies and health-information companies with patients in a personal, meaningful way — deepening those patients’ trust and satisfaction while helping them better manage their health.

Streamlining healthcare operations

This hospital could also develop private APIs for use by its employees — for instance, to better predict staff requirements, thus reducing overtime costs and better serving patients. An API that facilitated record sharing with other hospitals and medical offices in the surrounding area could lessen the possibility of errors and allow hospital staff to focus on patient care, rather than paperwork. With the right tools, doctors and nurses could more easily access government and research data that might help them make smarter diagnoses. Another API could interact with major insurance providers to prevent billing errors (and reduce patient exasperation).

When it comes to APIs, what challenges do healthcare companies face?

Healthcare environments deploy an ever more complicated mix of technologies, systems, applications, and processes to serve patients and physicians and to solve organizational challenges. And these legacy systems become ever more inefficient as they age — in part because they are often not interoperable with newer technologies. A healthcare company that depends on such legacy systems has to make them work together in order to support APIs. Integrating these systems is the first step.

Another challenge when developing APIs for a healthcare environment is a lack of access to effective tools for designing, testing, and monitoring those APIs and a vibrant developer community that can provide feedback and insights into an API’s features and design. These are critical factors in the development of well-crafted, engaging APIs that will be widely adopted.

Simplify API integration, design and development

MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform™ offers healthcare providers and other healthcare companies easy-to-implement solutions for API integration and development. It’s one platform that any organization — in any industry — can use to design, build, secure, monitor, and manage APIs.

Anypoint Platform makes it easy for healthcare companies and patient support providers to incorporate seamless integration and interoperability throughout an ecosystem. The platform offers a number of valuable components — such as CloudHub and Mule Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) — that make it easy to share information across applications, services, and systems — on-premises and in the cloud. These solutions enable connectivity that allows organizations to unlock their systems and data, so they can create powerful, cutting-edge APIs.

Anypoint™ Connectors enable instant API connectivity to some of the most popular healthcare applications and services while supporting healthcare information standards such as HL7 and MLLP. For example, with a library of pre-built workflow integration solutions, a healthcare company can rapidly connect and integrate accounting, billing, marketing, and other workflow applications and systems. Unlike other integration options, Anypoint Connectors are built and managed on MuleSoft’s enterprise integration platform, so companies can deploy integrations rapidly, either on-premises or in the cloud.

In addition, Anypoint Platform for APIs delivers necessary tools for designing and building APIs that developers will want to use — and to ensure that those APIs perform and scale to meet enterprise requirements. Anypoint Platform for APIs offers tools to support you at every step in the development and implementation of APIs.

  • Consult with app developers to design great APIs. Anypoint Platform for APIs facilitates close collaboration between API and app developers throughout the API lifecycle. And by leveraging RAML tooling, the platform offers an onramp for API developers to design RESTful APIs quickly, using expressive, intuitive language. As soon as an API developer designs an API, application developers can interact with it, test it, provide feedback, and document potential use cases — all in a single design environment. This close collaboration ensures that the API will inspire app developers, which in turn ensures widespread adoption.
  • APIs from concept to reality — fast. Getting your API up and running requires more than great design. By leveraging MuleSoft’s proven, trusted runtime, Anypoint Platform for APIs allows you to rapidly build the API once it’s designed — and to ensure that it performs well, scales to support your growing community of app developers, and remains secure and protected against unauthorized access.
  • API management and monitoring made easy. Anypoint Platform for APIs provides all the tools you need to monitor and manage APIs and the application developers who use them. Create contracts with API consumers to control access, establish SLAs, or throttle calls to API endpoints. Choose from pre-packaged policy templates, or create your own to manage compliance, security, and quality of service. And dashboard analytics make it easy to monitor usage, compliance with SLAs, and overall API performance.
  • Encourage engagement with your API. Anypoint Platform for APIs takes the guesswork out of engaging the developer community with your API. Create and publish interactive docs and code samples, so developers can get started with your API in minutes. Allow app developers to document use cases for the API as they’re discovered. And because they’re designed in RAML, your APIs will be concise and easy to understand.

MuleSoft’s integration solutions make it easy for healthcare providers and healthcare-focused companies to design, develop, implement, monitor, and manage successful APIs. Anypoint Platform gives healthcare providers a powerful way to leverage the useful patient and research data that’s already being stored in their internal systems. Anypoint Platform for APIs opens up access to a creative developer community and provides streamlined tools so an organization’s departments can improve operations and work more efficiently.

Learn how MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform can help hospitals, healthcare systems, insurers, and life sciences companies drive innovation in healthcare.

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