Last time I talked about the cold (weather and the Utility industry), this time I’ll talk about the Flu. A while ago I covered Healthcare payers, but now we are in the middle of
winter here in the north and it’s time to cover the other side of Healthcare – Providers. Health providers need to access many resources to provide the best care possible. This includes engaging the patient in the care plan, improving collaboration across multiple health related entities (i.e. partners), and accessing data resources to improve diagnosis. While providing all this they need to meet security and regulatory requirements, make frequent improvements to services and, oh yes, control costs. I prescribe APIs as part of the solution.
Once again I’ll use the structure I introduced a few weeks ago (here).
Mobile App Development – According to ABI research 1 billion health related Apps will be downloaded by 2016. Mobile Apps allow a customer to be engaged in their own health and well-being. As most of these Apps will need to access systems inside the company for information and the best way to do this is through APIs. All these
interactions provide insights into the patient and data points that can be useful to the healthcare provider (see data section). Common mobile capabilities include:
- Basic APIs – common information for all users – find doctor/specialist, wait time, find information on health classes/events, symptom checker, clinical trial information
- Custom APIs: billing, making payments, schedule an appointment, enroll in a class/event.
- Mobile advantages include finding and mapping nearby care locations. Use of the camera for visible medical issues to add images to the patient input.
What APIs are available today in Health? Here are just a few samples of public APIs:
- AdhereTech – makes medication bottles that are enabled with technology to improve prescription medication adherence.
- iHealth – provides wireless scales, blood pressure monitors, and other mobile monitoring devices, along with an app that allows patients to track their own health data. The iHealth API allows third party applications and services to interact with an iHealth user’s health data, after user authorization.
- Fitbit – Users can authenticate an external website/application to use their Fitbit data, and use the external application to push data to Fitbit.
- FoodCare – When consumers have an ailment, they usually go to the doctor. Many times doctors recommend dietary changes in order to preserve health. FoodCare offers personalized nutrition for users from the comfort of a mobile phone.
Besides creating Mobile Apps for their own customer’s accounts, there are many other areas where APIs can provide value for Health providers.
Partnering – Health is a team sport combining patients, doctors, medicine, exercise, nutrition and environment. The best way to integrate across these many participants is through APIs. Many medical issues and procedures require collaboration across a team. An episode of care for example for a knee replacement illustrates this. A knee replacement requires coordination across a team of doctors and specialists, medications, pre-surgery X-rays or MRIs, referrals to specialists, surgery (with scheduling), post-surgery rehabilitation, etc. Interactions between the different participants can be enabled through APIs reducing errors and costs. These can also be linked to coverage and payment APIs from the Healthcare Payer.
Additional partner APIs might exist to employer wellness benefits tools, calendar integration for scheduling and access to the latest medical research.
Public APIs – Wellness, exercise, or nutrition Apps can integrate with care tracking APIs for doctor feedback. A clever App might integrate a symptom checker, patient’s insurance coverage options and recommend a doctor in their plan. Doctors or hospitals might provide APIs describing their services or capabilities and the health plans they accept which could be combined with patient reviews for a comparative App to recommend doctors.
Social – Patient communication to/from relatives and friends (e.g. MeWe) can be combined with calendaring APIs and APIs for visiting hours and location. Interest groups can be powerful opportunities to support patients and provide recommendations to use provided health services in the area.
Devices –Devices can be integrated to monitor patients either locally or remotely and report conditions. These can be acted upon if abnormal situations occur. Medications can be dispensed more safely and accurately using APIs to ensure the correct medication and dosage is given to the correct patient on the correct schedule.
Data – All of the items listed in this blog are providing data that is a valuable resource to the Health industry. Combining data from internal and external sources including CRM, claims and financial systems, clinical databases, web, mobile and call center channels, social media, and partner systems provides a huge wealth of information that can be accessed via APIs to improve patient care, identify patterns, and potential opportunities.
Data APIs can also be used to learn what customers are saying about your products and services, identify preferred interaction channels and appropriate next-best actions, predict propensity to engage in health and wellness programs, and uncover opportunities to provide new healthcare products and services.
Finally, I need to mention that IBM Watson provides APIs for Health related questions. Following its famous Jeopardy victory Watson’s next challenge was assisting in the Health field, providing various capabilities that are accessed via APIs.
By using APIs to support the Health industry companies can consume existing capabilities through APIs, add their new capability and bring new offerings to market quickly and with lower cost. Patient solutions can be integrated rather than relying on a patient to put together the answers they need from multiple fragmented sources. Access to private information can be secured to allow access only to the patient and/or their medical professional.