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Application Programming Interfaces (API)

Shared by Radhika Narayanan | 0 0 0 | about 1 year ago

In my June 2016 article on Application Programming Interfaces (API), I defined APIs as specifications that detail how software components should interact, and APIs provide the technology to power graphical user interfaces (GUI).  From a health care organization (HCO), health researcher, or patient perspective an API is the glue that enables one to connect systems and data. In this article, I’d like to explore the application of an API.  While there are many ways that an API is applicable within a healthcare ecosystem, I’d like to explore the relationship between an API and the Internet of things (IOT).  A recent HIMSS article defined IOT as the availability of  “real-time (data) visibility and intelligence into patient records, specimens, medications, supply inventories, etc.”(@HIMSS, 2015).  IOT can represent data streams or physical devices.  Some current examples of physical IOT devices include; Smart outlets, physical fitness monitors, medication monitors, and vital sign monitors.  The key ingredient to making any of these data streams or devices work is the ability to transfer data from the instrument to a business system that analyzes the data.  Figure 1 illustrates a notional IOT ecosystem (Hossain & Muhammad, 2016).   Observe that each element of the ecosystem interacts with central business systems.  The interaction between the IOT device and the enterprise system is supported (in many cases) by an API. The API supports the need for the IOT device and its’ connected network to communicate together so that “IOT devices (instruments and sensors), and people function together as one smart system to monitor, track, and store patients’ healthcare information for ongoing care.”(Hossain & Muhammad, 2016) As IOT devices emerge (along with supporting APIs) one of the most significant capabilities that is developing includes improved patient engagement.  IOT devices are used to improve patient and provider communication, they are used to monitor and transmit vital signs more efficiently, they are used to deploy staff more efficiently, and they are used to support telemedicine encounters.

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Categories Architecture & Engineering Design and UX

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