Join Our Webinar on May 22, 2019 at 12 pm Central!
API 101: An Introduction to APIs and How They Are Transforming Health IT
Webinar speakers and blog authors:
Wayne Kubick, HL7 CTO
John Orosco, CTO, Sansoro Health
Dave Levin, CMO, Sansoro Health
Application program interface (API) technology has transformed the digital economy and is now poised to do the same in health IT. The combination of the an increasingly robust HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) standard API and the rules proposed by ONC on interoperability will accelerate this trend. What should you know before diving in? Tune in to our live webinar on Wednesday May 22 at 12pm CT.
APIs allow software applications to connect, communicate and collaborate through a combination of web services. This harnesses the power of internet “backbone” communication protocols to provide a secure channel for connecting two applications and standards like JSON and XML that provide data-interchange formats or “objects.”
APIs also allow businesses to collaborate more seamlessly. For example, businesses that ship packages via UPS can leverage the UPS API to easily track shipping status. This API hides the complexity of the UPS database and business logic. It’s an open API that is exposed to the world so almost anyone can use it. Simply register, learn how the API works and connect and your system can interrogate the UPS API, instantly retrieve the current status, and display it to your customers on your website or app.
Our ongoing tooling journey at HL7 continues, neither as a sprint nor a marathon. For us, it’s really more like an odyssey – an ongoing journey where there is always something more to be done, another path to explore, and a final destination (retirement, for example) seems far out of reach. In the case of HL7 tooling, a fair number of tooling retirements are well overdue.
Despite the wait, it’s gratifying to see when tangible progress is actually achieved. On the Confluence front, we’re in the home stretch of phase 1 of the rollout, though there’s a whole new course to pursue just around the bend. We now have all work groups on Confluence (!) and have also migrated many more projects, committees and collaborations. New functions and help features in Confluence (including a major facelift for confluence.hl7.org) are being added regularly, and you can keep up with these by checking the CTO Tooling Update page. This enabling platform is already unleashing many new opportunities within the HL7 community. Our next target is to work toward optimizing our processes with online forms and workflow. The online project scope statement (PSS) pilot is now available and will give us an opportunity to speed up reviews and approvals as well as make new projects more visible to the community in the hope we can avoid last minute catchups.
Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. First, we get hooked on the opening, which drives us ultimately towards a conclusion, but the real time and effort comes along the way. While the middle is where most things happen, we can sometimes feel like we’re in a holding pattern there – until something tangible finally happens that directly affects what we do.
This rings true with HL7’s transition to our new collaboration tooling environment built on Confluence and JIRA. The good thing is that we’re making steady progress on multiple fronts, with many more work groups in Confluence and the killer apps of JIRA Ballot and Unified Terminology Governance (UTG) becoming more palpable. On the other hand, we’re clearly still en route, perhaps able to imagine but not yet actually taste the promised rewards. This is understandable, since the mission of HL7 is the creation of standards, not the creation of tooling to help us achieve that. However, it’s tooling that directly affects us in the ways we develop HL7 standards.
You may have noticed that the HL7 website has a new look and feel.
The newly launched public homepage is one component of a broader website redesign project with an overall focus to enhance the most widely used and frequently visited sections of the HL7.org.
We hope this redesign will:
- Better highlight the value and benefits offered by HL7 to the healthcare community
- Increase the visibility of education and membership opportunities
- Support HL7 mission, vision, strategic goals and initiatives
- Provide new users with an appealing, responsive and mobile-friendly experience
Reflections from an HL7 FHIR Applications Roundtable Presenter
When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and do something to make the world a better place for everyone. I thought about becoming a missionary, a doctor or a teacher. Eventually I became a computer programmer because I love solving problems with technology.
To solve big problems, collaboration with many people with varied backgrounds and skill sets is vital for success. This is why I love working with the HL7 FHIR community. HL7 brings together people from all over the planet with a single focus to improve the exchange of electronic health information. Each person brings their experiences and insights into solving real world problems in healthcare. Together we’re learning how to use and expand the HL7 FHIR standards to solve those problems.
The HL7 FHIR Applications Roundtable
I really enjoy the HL7 FHIR Application Roundtable events. These events give developers an opportunity to show us their creations. Seeing what others have built to solve specific problems encourages me about the future of healthcare.
I had an opportunity to showcase our new MyLinks application at a recent HL7 FHIR Applications Roundtable event. For almost two decades, my software company (PatientLink) built products to enable patients to send their information directly into an electronic health record as structured data. This helped doctors understand the patient’s history to provide better care for them. Then cancer changed everything. After experiencing many frustrations in trying to gather my personal records for my care, I decided it was time to build something for patients.
I felt there were three important things I needed.
- I needed all of my medical records to better understand my illness.I wanted to learn everything about my cancer and understand if I was going to die from this.I also wanted to connect with another woman in Oklahoma City who had kidney cancer.
- I wanted to talk with her, ask her how her life has changed, and have someone who understood my questions and fears.
- After losing my sister to brain cancer and my mother to Alzheimer’s, I wanted to connect with researchers to understand what they are doing to solve these devastating illnesses and what I could do to help.
This was the genesis for MyLinks: Linking patients to their doctors and their data, to each other and to researchers.
HL7® FHIR® DevDays Comes to the U.S.
Boston is on FHIR!
HL7® FHIR® DevDays in Boston just concluded. This first US Edition of HL7 FHIR DevDays exceeded expectations in all respects. Attendance eclipsed all previous HL7 FHIR DevDays events and there was a waiting list. The content was stellar and was a window into the rapidly changing future of healthcare data liquidity and secure data access that is starting to become reality. Furthermore, the State Room venue on the 33rd floor above downtown Boston was spectacular.
Caption: View of downtown Boston from the State Room on the 33rd floor.
The HL7® FHIR® Connectathon Consumer Centered Data Exchange Track
Covered entities face an ever-growing demand to enable digital health apps to access Protected Health Information (PHI). The technical and legal requirements to enable this are the focus areas for the Consumer Centered Data Exchange (CCDE) track at the HL7 FHIR Connectathon. This track initiated at the San Diego Connectathon (September 2017), and it made more progress recently (January 27-28) at the New Orleans Connectathon. Track participation may have been piqued by Apple’s recent announcement that it will provide patients an “effortless solution bringing health records to iPhone”, and that Apple will use FHIR services to enable this.
Caption: Participants at the HL7 FHIR Connectathon 17 in New Orleans, LA. Image credit: Kai Heitmann.
Apple’s announcement couldn’t be more closely tied to the work of the enthusiastic CCDE track participants, representing the entire healthcare industry including providers, payers, government, academia and app developers. Apple could benefit a lot from this track’s work if iPhone users are to access PHI from covered entities beyond the initial 12 participants of the iOS 11.3 beta.
Why? Mainly because the CCDE track focuses on 3 key requirements:
- It should be technically simple for a covered entity to verify that an app requesting access to a patient’s PHI is indeed controlled by that particular patient;
- The way an app accesses PHI should be compliant with data governance and privacy policies of the covered entity, as well as HIPAA guidelines, and;
- The experience of an app user should be simple enough so that they clearly understand and acknowledge what they are sharing with the app.
The HL7® FHIR® Connectathon at HL7's 31st Annual Plenary & Working Group Meeting
I don’t know what you were doing on Saturday, September 9, but I was in a San Diego hotel ballroom watching a little history being made.
HL7 held the 16th FHIR Connectathon on September 9 & 10 and it was another great success. Over 200 people happily gathered together at 9:00 am (with lots of coffee) to work in the 19 tracks developing FHIR solutions.
Clinical Research Track
The Clinical Research track, co-sponsored by TransCelerate, filled three large tables. This was a huge jump in participation. We had seven participants at the January Connectathon in San Antonio and two at the May Connectathon in Madrid.
Read more about how TransCelerate BioPharma Inc. generated use cases for the Clinical Research track and supported the event here.