With the potential to reduce the cost of healthcare and improve access to services, telemedicine -- in which healthcare providers such as doctors interact with patients through electronic means -- is an increasingly important part of the healthcare industry. By some estimates, telemedicine will be a multibillion-dollar market by the end of the decade.
However, connecting healthcare professionals to their patients over the Internet isn't as straightforward as sending an e-mail or kicking off a Skype session. Many of the groups that are involved in providing healthcare must adhere to a plethora of rules designed to protect the privacy and security of patient data. A lot of the rules are associated with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. Because of HIPAA's stringent requirements and the civil and criminal penalties that can result from violations, an entire ecosystem of companies offering HIPAA-compliant services has emerged.
One player in the space, SecureVideo.com, recently launched a REST API for its HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing solution that allows doctors and patients to interact by using a Windows, Mac OS, or iOS device with a camera.
SecureVideo.com is rolling out its API in several stages. The first stage, announced this month, allows SecureVideo.com users to manage individuals and sessions and to retrieve usage reports. In addition, the API supports single sign-on so that users logged in to a healthcare provider's Web site can be automatically signed in to a videoconferencing session hosted by SecureVideo.com.
The company sees allowing providers to exercise more control over user experience as an important part of the value proposition of its API. According to Tom Farris, PhD, SecureVideo.com's chief clinical officer, "The development of our API means our clients can provide a truly branded product for their staff, while being able to rely on our support team and technical expertise."
Regulation continues to create opportunities for API providers
Regulation is creating opportunities in numerous markets, and healthcare is one of the most active. Companies such as SecureVideo.com, Imprivata, and TrueVault have responded by creating services specifically focused healthcare and the HIPAA compliance that it demands.
Even businesses that aren't focused on healthcare exclusively are also finding that maximizing their opportunities requires them to respond to regulation in lucrative markets. For example, online storage giant Box, which is expected to go public in the near future, became HIPAA compliant so that it could meet the needs of customers in the healthcare industry.
All these companies serve as great examples of how opportunities are growing for new API providers focused specifically on helping customers address regulation. They also show why existing API providers should pay close attention to regulation to ensure that their offerings are positioned to allow them to tap into lucrative, regulation-heavy markets.