APIs on FHIR: Are We Close to Reaching Global Healthcare Interoperability

March 21, 2023
APIs on FHIR: Are We Close to Reaching Global Healthcare Interoperability

Connecting Healthcare Across Supply Chains

API technology is the disrupter-in-chief of many sectors, especially retail and banking. Some of this disruption is driven by regulation that will inevitably be replicated: from open banking to open insurance, open pensions, and so on. The healthcare industry is one of the latest to expand its traditional reach and create new ways to connect across supply chains by opening up APIs.

Healthcare’s digital transformation has been spurred by FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), the industry standard for exchanging healthcare data. As PSD2 is to banking, these regulations ensure a standard structure of information, making data accessible and readable outside of a central system. First trialed in the United States, FHIR has quickly expanded as an international specification to resolve administrative and clinical challenges in healthcare networks around the globe, making a notable impact in the UK.

FHIR Solutions In Practice

Some of the solutions already in practice from an open healthcare platform include authenticating healthcare providers and referring patients to both clinical and community-based care. The NHS is in the beta stage of building a national API network where registered patient records can be located and accessed by any authorized physician, care worker, or healthcare administrator with the right consents from the patient. The implications for such a network are huge. Consider walking into any treatment facility and having a physician who is not your primary care provider being able to access your entire medical history with one API call. A second API call could allow that same physician to share information on prescription type and dosage amount with a pharmacy, reducing the risk of human error or miscommunication.

Improving Patient Experience

As we’ve witnessed in industries such as banking, open APIs in healthcare serve the patient (or customer) experience and allow them to make informed decisions on their treatment based on the availability of aggregated personal data. The use of APIs in this field is not limited to patient care. Researchers, university scientists, and policy makers can now access large pools of patient data for pathology studies and population management. There is enormous cross-industry potential as well: both private and public healthcare institutions can leverage existing insurance APIs to verify with a provider that a patient has the appropriate coverage and is billed accurately.

FHIR’s quick expansion and steady growth shows that healthcare providers are eager to adopt APIs as a low-cost solution to the industry’s complex challenges. FHIR is completely free, open, and earns its “fast” descriptor by being implementation-focused. Designed with developers in mind, the serialization format is human-readable, allowing many interfaces to be created in a single day.

How Can Prolifics Help

Prolifics has a number of healthcare customers in both North America and the UK, including BMI Healthcare and GSK. We’ve now commenced a project to re-purpose some of our open banking assets to address the business opportunities for the healthcare industry, leveraging our knowledge of API architectures and platforms, security (OAuth), and cloud deployments. FHIR sandbox, anyone?