API Exchange could be a game changer for app developers, interoperability

The API Exchange will allow health developers to write just one app that will be effective across multiple hospitals and clinics

As the number of mobile health apps continue to grow, along with public demand for them, one company has found a way to open the pipelines of innovation by eliminating the need for multiple application programming interfaces (APIs).

Apigee, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based API company, announced Thursday the release of the Apigee API Exchange, which it touts as the first API exchange platform to have the ability to power app ecosystems in any industry.

Right now healthcare data is fragmented from hospital to hospital and clinic to clinic, and technology developers haven’t had enough financial incentive to create apps for each, explains David Andrzejek, Apigee’s API Exchange Initiative Leader. The API Exchange will allow health developers to write just one app that will be effective across multiple hospitals and clinics, he says.

Andrzejek says the use of the API Exchange should help to accelerate the interest in health app development and spur innovation.

Apigee has already launched its API Exchange in the telecommunications industry.

"APIs are the 'nervous system' of our new digital world," said Chet Kapoor, Apigee CEO. "Being able to share services and data through interoperable APIs is crucial to establishing modern, digital ecosystems in any industry.”

“This is especially true in industries where competition or regulation has created fragmentation, such as in telecommunications, healthcare and travel,” Kapoor says. “The API Exchange will let consumers use apps and APIs seamlessly across disparate businesses within an industry, similar to roaming on mobile phones."

Dilshad Simons, vice-president of marketing and Apigee Insights says the API Exchange could be used to make electronic health records interoperable, if all of the EHR users were “plugged in” to the same API exchange.

In his Feb. 14 blog, titled "Is HIT interoperability in the nature of healthcare?," Edmund Billings, MD, chief medical officer for Medsphere Systems Corporation, argues APIs could be used to make today’s EHR interoperability problems obsolete. However, the market for EHR vendors is a proprietary one, not lending itself toward open APIs.

[See Billings' blog: Is HIT interoperability in the nature of healthcare?]

Last July, the Office of the National Coordinator launched the Million Hearts App challenge, with Surescripts contributing the needed APIs.

"With these APIs, the challenge app developers can focus on optimizing user experience and will contribute to the exploding field of consumer health information technology campaigns," said Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health IT, of the project.