Of API’s and a long legacy tail

January 31, 2017

Jerry Rankin, Industry Strategy Director, Interoperability

The industry is abuzz with talk of the promise of Open APIs to streamline healthcare interoperability, and even to streamline healthcare itself.

Today I read the excellent Chilmark Research post on their report “Open APIs: The Promise and Hope from Outside the HIT Bubble,” and this was followed by a MobiHealthNews article on the same report.

While I share the abundant enthusiasm for the promise of Open APIs, as I read these posts I reflected on the following:

  • Long Legacy Tail: Healthcare has a long “legacy tail” – a huge investment in a massive installed application base that doesn’t and likely won’t anytime soon “speak” FHIR or other forms of “APIs.” It may take a number of years to begin to make a significant dent in this installed base.
  • Open APIs vs Standard/FHIR APIs: We often conflate the notions of “Open” APIs with “Standard” compliant APIs and “FHIR.” As pointed out in the Chilmark report, it is not necessarily the case that all APIs that will prove valuable to the industry in the coming months and years will be FHIR APIs or for that matter that they will be non-proprietary. We have seen recent examples of vendors who chose not to leverage Open APIs from some other major vendors (even if they are “standard”), and instead chose to publish their own, proprietary APIs to provide a superior solution.
  • Putting it to Work in the Real World: An example of some recent innovation leveraging APIs in the real world was with Hackensack University Medical Center which streamlined the “fill out the registration questionnaire on the clipboard in the waiting room” workflow with an integrated mobile application and eliminated the archaic pen and paper task that had been taking place thousands of times per day. This project leveraged Infor Cloverleaf as the middleware layer that connected a disparate set of proprietary and non-proprietary APIs to unite systems in innovation. That was just a start.

APIs–Application Programming Interfaces–are after all, Interfaces. In order to move the industry forward, we need to leverage all the tools we can muster and not expect that we will soon arrive at that happy place where every API is standard and no applications are legacy applications. Hackensack University Medical Center didn’t wait.

I am pleased that Infor stands ready with the Cloverleaf Integration Suite to assist the industry in taking on and succeeding with such innovation. The most recent release of Cloverleaf offers robust support for API integration, FHIR samples, a brand new browser based GUI enabling faster, easier interface configuration, enhanced security and more. Let’s innovate!
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