Discussion in the healthcare IT world is currently focused on interoperability. The hope is to standardize the exchange of Electronic Health Record (EHR) across systems to enable the instant availability of pertinent health information.
Dr. Edmund Billings, writing for HIT Consultant, believes that the only hope for true Interoperability is with the aid of open platform APIs exchanged in various heterogeneous ecosystems working unbarred within a free market economy.
Recent government initiatives have attempted to standardize the use of Electronic Health Records (EHR). Meaningful Use, for example, is a government mission that distributes monetary incentives to healthcare prtactictionaers for using certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology. The Office of the National Coordinator has also released plans to provide a roadmap for reaching syncronicrity "across vendor platforms."
The task is difficult, as EHR systems include unique robust data-sets, and many technical challenges arise with integration. To standardize procedures, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEE) has defined True Interoperability as:
"The ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged."
Edmunds believes that simply following this basic definition will prove insufficient to achieve True Interoperability, as development language barriers will still exist. In order to embrace True Interoperability between these systems, Edumnds encourages EHR platforms to open their APIs to increase collaboration and data access.
According to Edmund, HL-7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), currently in beta, may be the API resource the healthcare system requires to easily implement APIs and scale API ecosystems in cost-effective methods.