Healthcare APIs: A 21st-century solution for a post-COVID world

Stephanie St. Thomas
May 5, 2020
In February 2020, CMS and the ONC released the long-awaited interoperability rules to improve health care information sharing.

In a pre-COVID-19 light, the goal was already prescient: increase access to information so patients can easily find the best care. To that end, there are two main technology requirements:

  1. Health plans must make provider directory information available via APIs
  2. Providers must make patient information available via APIs

Shortly after, COVID-19 shook the world. Healthcare has acutely felt the pain. Providers have closed offices, limited hours, canceled/postponed elective procedures, and turned to mobile clinics and delivery options. Telemedicine has opened the digital front door to patients for all types of health care concerns. Even for the most digitally-savvy and healthcare-well-versed among us, the shock has been overwhelming.

Now more than ever, it is critical to provide clear, accurate, and actionable information across healthcare. We at Ribbon are optimistic, as the new interoperability rules have created a clear and low-lift path to simplifying health care: APIs.

Because APIs are easy to implement and maintain, they are a critical resource for both today’s COVID-19 crisis and long-term interoperability goals as we define a new normal in healthcare.

APIs coalesce data from many disparate sources that would otherwise be difficult to collect and validate. This flexibility and scale present an opportunity to share early signals on changes in provider data that directly affect how we receive health care – both on an individual-provider level as well as a broad-scale system level.

With this change, health care organizations can finally ensure an accurate view of providers by shifting to proactive management of provider data through APIs. They can paint an actionable picture of the type of care providers deliver, how they deliver that care, whether that care is aligned to patient needs, and which health plans cover that care. The framework for API adoption provided by these rules could not have come at a more necessary time.

At Ribbon, we are grateful to be a part of this positive change through two products:

  1. A compliant API that distributes directory information for CMS-regulated plans
  2. Enabling organizations with accurate and comprehensive provider data for proactive data management

If you are looking to implement a FHIR-compliant API to comply with the new interoperability rules and/or bring more accurate and comprehensive provider data into your workflow, reach out to us here or read more in this one-pager.

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