Published on: January 15, 2019
in: Company News
Home healthcare technology solutions offer many promises, but all these promises depend on the introduction of robust APIs that bridge the gap between systems that speak different computing languages. They also depend upon artificial intelligence that facilitates the efficient use of immense data resources. Without the development of new and better APIs, including HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), home healthcare tech remains siloed and unable to help those who need it the most.
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The AI Revolution in Home Healthcare Technology
As healthcare agencies moved to electronic patient records, the sheer volume of data grew to enormous proportions. Patient records, treatment plans, and more that filled stacks of file cabinets now filled clouds of data houses on multiple computers. But how to connect these computers?
Artificial intelligence (AI) provided the way in, which allowed healthcare agencies to mine such data to improve patient care and outcomes. The AI revolution in healthcare technology meant that providers could now utilize data in much the same way as companies do, applying data and analytics to high volumes of data to derive insights, treatment plans, and more.
Measuring great volumes of data became easier with AI. The computing power available now far outpaces anything other industries could access when they made the switch to AI years ago, too.
The Products and Services of the Future
Home healthcare technology solutions, along with the healthcare products and services of the future, depend upon the ability of AI to access and utilize data from new electronic medical records. To use this data, APIs must be developed.
What is an API? API stands for “application programming interface.” It’s a common term throughout the software industry and refers to programs that bridge or span other programs. For those into blogging or hosting their websites on WordPress, for example, common APIs in the form of plugins allow different software such as mailing lists, appointment scheduling tools, and language translators to work with a basic WordPress site.
APIs in home healthcare technology solutions and other healthcare tech products work similarly. They plug into one software to bridge it with another, enabling data to move between the two.
Without good APIs in the new frontier of healthcare products and services, innovation grinds to a halt. The APIs under development now intend to bridge the gap between multiple data pools, enabling researchers, hospitals, and doctors to study reams of patient data for statistical and epidemiological trends that can affect the course of treatment in the future.
Open API Critical for Success
Open API will be critical for the success of these applications. Open API refers to publicly available codes from existing APIs. The developers make their codes available to anyone who wishes to use and build upon them, putting the code at the service of the users rather than for profitable exploitation.
To make the advances in AI and data use possible, open APIs in healthcare technology are necessary. One example of the necessity of open APIs may be found in FHIR (pronounced “fire”), a draft standard describing formats and elements and an API for exchanging health records.
If FHIR works as promised, health records travel with the click of a button and any health provider working with a patient can access them. Home healthcare technology solutions of the future will likely depend on FHIR-type transactions to transmit data between a patient’s doctors and specialists, labs, and pharmacies.
When open APIs work well, patients are better served. Someone who requires around the clock nursing care for memory impairment may not recall an allergy to a medication from ten years ago; open access to healthcare records can call up a doctor’s report listing the allergic reaction and alert the pharmacist and prescribing physician of the dangers. Better patient care is the result.
The Argonaut Project and FHIR
One example of how APIs are evolving to serve patient needs better is the Argonaut Project. The purpose of the Argonaut Project is to “develop a first-generation FHIR-based API and Core Data Services specification to enable expanded information sharing for electronic health records and other health information technology based on Internet standards and architectural patterns and style.” The more aligned core data and information sharing are among all healthcare providers, the better the care will be for patients.
Currently, many APIs enable patients to access their own healthcare data. The goal of newer APIs is to share data among different healthcare organizations and systems.
For example, a doctor’s office who has a relationship with Hospital A, but whose patients may go to the emergency room at Hospital B if it’s closer to their homes than Hospital A, may share an API that enables them to access necessary records from Hospital B. If a patient is treated for an emergency at Hospital B but goes to the physician’s office for follow up treatment, their doctor can still access their essential treatment and diagnostic records and follow up from there. The patient can also access their own health records and provide them to their doctor or specialist at will.
FHIR and similar APIs that improve the ease with which data can be shared among various healthcare facility databases improve communication and treatment for patients.
Selected Data, Not a Free for All
Let’s be clear, however; FHIR and other APIs enable selective data retrieval. It’s not an open ticket to accessing any and all of a patient’s records. Discrete data packets, such as allergies, test results, and diagnostic test history may be located, but to safeguard patient privacy, not all data is revealed en masse.
More Data, Better Outcomes – a Win for All
If you can imagine the healthcare industry as a wheel with many spokes, home healthcare agencies are often one spoke among many, or even at the outer rim of the wheel. APIs would form interconnected nets among the spokes of the wheel so that all the spokes, or groups, treating the patient, would have equal access to important and pertinent records. No longer working in the dark or relying upon faulty memory or poorly kept paper-based records, patients, caregivers, and healthcare organizations can be assured that everyone connected to the patient’s care is empowered with full and complete knowledge.They say knowledge is power. When it comes to home healthcare technology solutions, APIs will be the powerhouse that transforms the industry and enables better communication, care, and outcomes.
Mindover Software provides solutions for the home healthcare industry. We helped Bethany Home Healthcare change from their outdated software to new home health agency accounting software. Bethany was able to cut payroll costs by 200%. When you are ready for home health agency accounting software, please call Mindover Software. Contact us or call 512-990-3994.