EHR vendors extending platforms with apps and APIs
Several EHR giants are quietly working together. They're playing in the same sandbox. They're sharing. At least in one specific capacity.
For the past year-and-a-half, they've been getting together in a loose coalition with Intermountain Healthcare and other organizations to work on standard application programming interfaces for patient data sets. The goal, said Intermountain's chief medical informatics officer Stanley Huff, MD, is to create a platform by which anyone can write an app that can work in various EHRs.
"It's hard work," Huff said. "To get to that level of true interoperability is more work than the things we've done so far."
Huff will discuss the project along with David McCallie, MD, Cerner's senior vice president of medical informatics in a HIMSS15 session titled "Extending the EHR Platform with Open Apps and Services."
The vendors and providers are "creating a new marketplace based on standards-based services," Huff said.
They all see a chance, he added, to create a platform that can accept any apps that visualize clinical data, offer decision support capabilities and integrate data with outside sources like HIEs, population health tools and mHealth solutions.
"EHRs are pretty good at doing what (the vendors) say they do," Huff continued. "But now everyone is saying, 'I wish it had something else,' or 'I wish it could do this.' There's an unmet demand for apps."
For the smaller, specialized EHR vendors, the business case is obvious – whole new markets will be opened to them. For the larger companies like Cerner and its brethren, Huff explained that the development of an open API will give them a "new service that adds value (to their product) and revenue."
Huff said the process has been slow and complex, requiring an understanding of many different datasets, codes and terms.
And he's a little bit frustrated that so few people know about it.
"This is a really big deal," Huff said. "There are a lot of people who need to learn about it. It's hard to get the word out to everybody."
The session "Extending the EHR Platform with Open Apps and Services," will take place from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 15, room N426.