The lowdown on Application Programming Interfaces

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You have probably heard about Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) before. They are huge in the tech world. But what are they? Why all the hype? And what exactly can they do?

Below is an outline of APIs and what they can do for your hospital.

What are APIs?

APIs are small pieces of code that allow two separate software systems or apps, to interact or exchange data with each other. Put another way, APIs allow one app to ask another app a question and get an answer.

Online stores provide a great example of how APIs work. Once a company has entered its credit card details, the website asks the bank (via an API) whether there is enough credit in the account. The bank then gives an answer (also via an API). It is that simple. And it is this simplicity that makes them so powerful.

How are APIs relevant to digital health?

APIs are also incredibly useful in digital health and can be used to solve many of the integration problems that company’s experience. Just like the online store example above, APIs can be used to allow different clinical applications to talk to each other. Like integrating a Patient Administration System (PAS) with a billing or radiology system – or anything else that has an API.

This last bit is the problem.

The state of play for APIs in digital health

Unfortunately, not every app has an API. There are a number of reasons for this. Sometimes the app is not able to have its own APIs, or have the capacity to support or maintain them. However, sometimes it is because the app vendor does not want you to connect their app to someone else’s app.

To prevent the above happening in your hospital, take the time to include due diligence around APIs with all new applications considered.

Build things of lasting value.

IP Health is a Major Sponsor of APHA

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