In his article for MedCity News, David Harlow discussed the potential problem relating to the intended use of APIs mentioned in Meaningful Use - Stage 3, a proposed rule released on the Federal Register on March 30.
These rules lay the foundation for an incentive-driven Health IT ecosystem post-Meaningful Use, and APIs are an important component. The worry, from developers and healthcare experts alike, is that the proposed system will not work if the technology intended to drive it is not yet ready for the job.
The objectives of the Meaningful Use requirements and their associated measures are designed to
- Align with national health care quality improvement efforts
- Promote interoperability and health information exchange
- Focus on the 3-part aim of reducing cost, improving access, and improving
For most of the 8 core requirements, 2 out of these 3 objectives must be met, and APIs will be relied upon to play a major role in accessing data. Information may be accessed either through the existing pathways of Stage 2 (the view/download/transmit measure), or through the use of APIs. However, any APIs need to be certified by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC).
Objectives not only cover using APIs to get data to patients, but also encourage the sharing of patient-generated data with providers. To avoid being overwhelmed, providers will need to have intelligent filters in place so that the data is presented to clinicians and patients as actionable information.
Another issue is the recording of a patient’s summary of care, with the current requirements seemingly designed to accommodate sequential admission and discharge, while complex care is seldom administered in this way in practise. All of this highlights the need for more discussions about APIs and their role in communications between EHR systems, before they are mandated as part of Meaningful Use.