Mobile Health: Human API Helps Developers Enter The New Growth Market

Mark Boyd
Jul. 16 2013, 11:00AM EDT

The release of the Human API may help untangle the complex web of big data, insurance standards, health care sensors, and disease causal pathways that currently prevents many developers from designing health applications. The Human API offers a platform to make human health data available through a RESTful interface, using OAuth 2.0 authentication.

Founder Andrei Pop told ProgrammableWeb:

"The idea is to create an infrastructure for all human health data, not just quantified self. We are focused on health data, and we work on the healthcare side of things as well. We are exploring many projects and ideas. Part of the reason we started by building an API is that we want to let other people build really interesting use cases that are relevant to them on top of these data sets.

Industry analysts like GlobalData predict that the worldwide mobile health market will be worth $11.8 billion by 2018. Research2guidance and Markets and Markets both calculate that mobile health sensors will be a large part of that growth, with Research2guidance estimating that mobile sensors alone will generate annual revenue of $5.6 billion by 2017.

This, in turn, is expected to require increasing competency by developers to be able to feed this sensor data into meaningful information via applications and other API-related end products.

Human API supports developers to create apps that draw feeds from sensor data as well as other human health data sources. Developers can create an application and use Human API to handle the secure flow of an individual user’s health data into the developer application. For example, after setting up an account, a developer sets up a base OAuth URL in Human API and selects which health data streams will be requested from individual users.

The Human API platform allows developers to make calls via an access token using the developers’ UserID, which prevents the need for application developers to set up all the OAuth clients individually.

To launch the API, the founders held a hackathon in San Francisco and virtually. Judging is currently underway of the 30 projects submitted. Some of the most exciting ideas presented included:

  • Outfit: A crowd-sourced health research project that allows individuals to embark on citizen-generated science experiments. The app prompts users to complete simple surveys and share sensor data from their smartphone with HumanAPI and then collects the resulting data in aggregate form to describe health outcomes from everyone participating in the ‘adventure’.
  • Liveabetes: A diabetes management application that monitors blood glucose, BMI, and blood pressure and presents data in user-friendly visualizations.

Such applications show how Human API has the potential to move clinical medicine further into the hands of the patient. In September 2012, Executive Director of Continua Health Alliance told iHealth podcast journalist Kenny Goldberg about how mobile health apps can improve the quality of life and reduce health care costs for many end users:

"Individuals recover better, and it's less costly, to manage them at home, rather than inside of hospitals or long-term care facilities. And by using these tools we can help individuals stay home safer in a healthier environment for them, on a longer-term basis.

As meaningful use has driven the adoption of electronic medical records, sort of the next level of that, we're gonna start driving towards more of that personalized medicine, and you'll see more clinical applications applied to individuals. Ultimately, what this means is that you can potentially be prescribed an app."

In addition to the Human API tool, a blog provides industry insights for developers. A recent blog post discusses key issues that developers need to understand to comply with US medical record-keeping and data privacy standards. A Google Group for Human API developers has also been started.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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