Most Vendors Using APIs To Broaden EHR Functionality – ONC

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In a recent move, the University of California San Francisco, the California Health Care Foundation, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, ScaleHealth, have gone on to develop a survey in order to learn about application programming interface integrations, hurdles faced during API integration, as well as API-relevant policy efforts.

ONC indicated on February 15 that the study, which was published in JAMIA in January this year, not only showed high levels when it comes to adoption of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard within the healthcare technology companies that were surveyed, but EHR companies executed the standards-based APIs and made the same available to third-party users much before the December 31, 2022, deadline, thereby requiring that they make use of HL7’s FHIR standard for certified APIs.

Wes Barker, Benjamin Rosner, and Catherine Strawley, the study authors of ONC, say in one of the posts that this new data reveals the broad usage of the technology among the intended users – third-party applications as well as software developers. The study also went on to indicate that around 57% of respondents said that they made use of both standards-based along with proprietary APIs so as to integrate with an EHR, with 24% going on to state that they worked around equally with both APIs.

Companies go on to face hurdles when it comes to adopting standards-based APIs, which have high fees, a dearth of realistic clinical testing data, as well as lack of data elements concerning interest or value,” the researchers went on to say in the study report.

Barker, Strawley, as well as Rosner explained further in the blog from ONC that these results go on to validate other challenges raised by health IT community members, specifically app developers and other digital health companies, around the limited scope of the present certified APIs as well as the barriers to entry such as fees, data access, as well as developer support that go on to affect the realization of APIs sans special effort as called for within the 21st Century Cures Act.

There are certain needs in ONC’s recent HTI-1 final rule that also aim to resolve some consistent barriers by decreasing the endeavors to use such APIs, as stated by Barker, Strawley, and Rosner.Especially standardizing requirements so as to publish electronic FHIR endpoints as well as also adopting the United States Core Data for Interoperability version 3.

HTI-1 went on to establish that USCDI v3 will be the only USCDI version that’s needed within the Certification Program as of January 1, 2026. The agency went ahead and published USCDI 4 standards in 2023. At this time, ONC is also wanting to seek comments on Draft USCDI Version 5.

Access, exchange, and use of electronic health information standards happen to be the key resources for interoperability for information blocking compliance across the country.
It is well to be noted that breaches of information blocking rules can go on to cost noncompliant providers thousands.

The Cures ACT, which went on to codify secure, programmatic access to patients’s electronic health information in 2016, goes on to mean that information sharing is expected as per Micky Tripathi, who happens to be the National Coordinator for Health IT, as well as Principal Deputy Administrator of the CMS, Jonathan Blum, within an article on disincentives for healthcare providers as well as consequences.

Barker, Strawley, and Rosner confirm that studies such as this enable ONC, along with its partners, to better gauge the requirements of the community and also evaluate the execution of health IT policies.