Why APIs? Anticipated Value, Barriers, and Opportunities for Standards-Based Application Programming Interfaces in Healthcare
Perspectives of US Thought Leaders
Published in: JAMIA Open, Volume 5, Issue 2 (July 2022). doi: 10.1093/jamiaopen/ooac023
Posted on RAND.org on January 27, 2023
Improving health data interoperability through application programming interfaces (APIs) is a focus of US policy initiatives and could have tremendous impact on many aspects of care delivery, such as innovation, operational efficiency, and patient-centered care. To better understand the landscape of API use cases, we interviewed US thought leaders involved in developing and implementing standard-based APIs.
Materials and Methods
We conducted semi-structured virtual interviews with US subject matter experts (SMEs) on APIs. SMEs were asked to describe API use cases along with value and barriers for each use case. Written summaries were checked by the SME and analyzed by the study team to identify findings and themes.
We interviewed 12 SMEs representing diverse sectors of the US healthcare system, including academia, industry, public health agencies, electronic health record vendors, government, and standards organizations. Use cases for standards-based APIs fell into six categories: patient-facing, clinician-facing, population health and value-based care, public health, administrative, and social services. The value across use cases was viewed as unrealized to date, and barriers to the use of APIs varied by use case.
SMEs identified a diverse set of API use cases where standard-based APIs had the potential to generate value. As policy efforts seek to increase API adoption, our work provides an early look at the landscape of API use cases, value propositions, and barriers. Additional effort is needed to better understand the barriers and how to overcome them to create value, such as through demonstration projects and rigorous evaluations for specific use cases.