Better Health Care Through APIs

Critical data-integration technology is helping health care providers in Michigan get patient information to doctors when and where they need it.

But there's even more to it. Pletcher notes that as health care providers have bought systems for managing electronic health records, they continue to receive paper faxes that were previously added to the end of a patient’s chart, but now have to be manually entered for the fax’s data to be digitally usable.

If the faxed data can be delivered electronically at the time and in the format that makes it most useful, it also becomes much more valuable. "If it came through as discrete data that was computable," says Pletcher, "it would automatically be embedded in the database and would be able to be accessible to any decision support or reporting tools that might generate an alert on a patient."

APIs are used to accomplish a lot of things—from tapping external data and functionality to sharing said data and functionality among multiple applications—but it's not often that any technology can literally be called a lifesaver. In the case of the Michigan Health Information Network, that's exactly what APIs have become.

About the Author

Tony Kontzer has written about technology and business for nearly 20 years and currently freelances from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Having spent the dot-com boom and bust years in Silicon Valley, he's had a front-row seat for the evolution of the technologies that have been the foundation of IT-powered business. He has been a regular contributor to CIO Insight and Baseline Magazine since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter as @tkontzer.

This article was originally published on 03-13-2013
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