Why being open is critical to the future of health IT and patient health

Written by Erik Kins, Chief Innovation Officer, Allscripts.

Let’s define what an open approach actually means. Companies adopting an open approach facilitate the exchange of information between programs, making it easier for their software to talk to other developers’ software. When we say a platform is open, it means it offers a rich, comprehensive set of web services to reach deeply into the underlying system. Open platforms enable systems to be connected more tightly than ever before by exchanging data in relevant snippets and building truly cooperative solutions.

A key component of this philosophy is an open Application Programming Interface (API). APIs are sets of tools and specifications that describe how software should interact. The concept of APIs is not new, but having fully supported APIs is not widespread in health IT today. Fully supported APIs come with updated documentation, sandbox environments, sample code, training classes, workshops and live resources to help navigate the process. They improve collaboration with the electronic health record (EHR) vendor and require less customization. APIs also tend to be more accessible, easier to use and a lower cost option when compared with other integration options.

When we talk high level about the open philosophy and what it takes to be an open platform, sometimes it’s hard to realize the effect it can have on the lives of physicians and patients. But it is critical that the health IT industry works together on an open approach that can help improve care delivery in several ways, including offering new patient engagement options and accelerating innovation.

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