Jul 28, 2017 · 6 min read

You’ve heard us say it about every other industry — well, this one’s no different; API Products are behind every initiative in healthcare innovation.

Why is that? What’s so special about this singular technology that demands the attention of every single industry?

For one, those simplified calls between databases known as APIs (Application Programing Interfaces) offer tech-agnostic integration with nearly every existing technology — even tomorrow’s technologies. That’s a pretty big deal.

For two, APIs offer enterprises the flexibility of a loosely-coupled infrastructure, allowing internal operations to move with agility and efficiency. So every department has access to every other department’s data. Meaning, many bottlenecks are removed, and many processes, automated.

But the big three is the one no one’s really talking about — APIs give you the ability to turn your business capabilities into miniservices you can quite literally lego build API Products and digital experiences with.

This unlocks the fast cranking out of well-governed, data-rich digital products of every type; internal products, external products, and crazy-cool customer experiences via third-party interaction. Shameless plug here to digitalML’s ignite platform, which quickly sets up modern enterprises to scale this act of building (with API Products, not legos… to be clear). But back to the topic: healthcare innovation.

1. Wearables are upping their game.

2. Patient portals: a must.

3. Linking payers and providers with APIs and prescription management.

Wearables have been around in healthcare before human-worn technology was even a twinkle in the eyes of other industries. Since the first pedometer was invented by da Vinci, humans have been trying to leverage real-time health data through devices worn on the body. And the wireless internet (via APIs) has only made the technology more accessible. Queue the IoT (Internet of Things).

The big trend we’re seeing this year is increased sophistication in Remote Patient Monitoring. Biotricity is a star player here, who are opening up revenue streams in the medical, healthcare, and consumer spaces with their Bioflux and Biolife products.

Popular healthcare APIs that might prove worthy for building API Products to support wearable tech: GETHealth for accessing data from wearables, Box for HIPAA-compliant file sharing and data storage, SOMA Shape API for predicting highly accurate body measurements, and Redox for network interoperability between payments and healthcare touchpoints.

Imagine, for instance, you want to build an API Product for a wearable device that will track the progress of a patient’s healing after an injury. A brace could be built directly from a patient photo with the help of SOMA’s highly-accurate body measurement technology. A few tracking devices might be built into the brace to measure vitals and healing progress in real-time, freeing up patient and provider from multiple check-in appointments. The assessed data could be sent to the provider securely through GETHealth, and Redox can manage payments.

The accurate data accrued by wearables unlock a more informed prognosis, and importantly, it puts consumers’ health into their own hands, often feeding directly into their Patient Portals — which brings us to another trend of the year.

It is worth noting the relationship between trends — so often one initiative unlocks another, or forks into two more. Allowing your patient complete access to personal health information is not only a critical service that might bring more customers to your brand, if you build it well — but also a new priority, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. So many in the field are scrambling to build this experience, but first things first. In order to offer new experiences like patient portal, many are faced with the more immediate task of tackling inoperability.

4. Time to grab the inoperability bull by the horns.

5. Revenue cycle management: The end-to-end story.

6. EHR unlock a shift in payment models to drive an outcome-based healthcare economy.

7. Designing patient experiences like other industries design customer experiences.

And so we’re seeing, for many healthcare giants, 2017 is the year of tackling the inoperability bull.

To be fair, healthcare has always had more important priorities than making the switch from paper to digital — like saving lives. But the benefits of ERH (Electronic Health Records) are proving to be well worth the migration.

Digital data management not only helps the organization by speeding the internal sharing of information, but the quality of patients’ lives are also being vastly improved through data aggregation and the standardization of medicine and practice.

Again, this is all supported by the implementation of microservices and API Products. The companies set up on loosely-coupled microservices architecture are leveraging speedy data access, secure governance, and sheer agility. The effect? Enormous changes in traditional healthcare business models, new revenue streams, and unprecedented cost savings.

Thanks to this shift to better operability, the accrual of richer, value-based data reporting has begun to unlock three key values: 1. providers are finally able to view the full end-to-end story of revenue cycle management, 2. the payment model is experiencing a shift towards performance measures (the prime example here is Medicare, at the forefront of the trend), and both values 1 & 2 lead to 3: Healthcare is beginning to see the merits of designing patient experiences like other industries design customer experiences.

“The bottom line is that physician payment will increasingly be dependent upon quality, patient experience, use of electronic health records and resource utilization,” says Trustee, an American Hospital Association Publication.

Figure 2: Digitizing your business capabilities will unlock powerful views that might inform roadmap initiatives. In this example, we have a taxonomy view of business capabilities in a sample healthcare API Portfolio; one of ignite’s several portfolio views.

8. Achieving higher value with lower costs.

9. ACA or no, healthcare will tread on.

10. APIs will revolutionize healthcare.

Some are moving incredibly fast with digital, and it’s causing everyone else to ponder on that prehistoric stumper: how do we get more for less?

The simple answer is, scale: build digital experiences at the speed of a blur, place your eggs in so many baskets, you can’t even remember where they all are til the chicks come peeping back to you — traditionally, this was a tall order for the IT department. But that’s all changing.

With the flatter architecture of microservices infrastructure, the bottlenecks are removed, the building blocks are already aligned to the language and models of business, and the modern healthcare enterprise is able to scale out innovative experiences while serious cost savings through advanced operability. Our customers are building API Products in a matter of days, when building APIs used to take them months.

In due time, too, as we enter an era of disruption and political instability (not to get into politics, but no one knows what will happen with the ACA). Whatever happens, the best way to prepare is to offer a diverse range of experiences. That way if certain features are removed by politics or policy, you have plenty more to offer. If others are expanded, even better.

When you’re able to spin out products at the speed of lightning, the hurdles can be jumped before they ever affect sales. When you’re getting the full end-to-end story of the experiences you’re building, you can turn your rich data reporting directly into roadmap initiatives. It all sits on your foundation of loosely coupled API products.

Questions? Want to learn more about building APIs with digitalML? Book a call today.


Written by


ignite: The Abstracted Service Management Platform. Our perspective on API strategies, customer stories, and thought leadership and best practices.

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