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RelayHealth: Curing Interoperability Headaches with APIs

Feb 02, 2017

If you keep up with the latest in health care, you’re probably familiar with many of the game-changing advances experts hope to achieve in coming years. But whether those advances are genomics-based precision treatments or faster, more streamlined claims and billing processes, a big blocker still stands in the way: interoperability.

Our health data spans numerous systems, many of which aren’t designed to talk to one another. Healthcare professionals may have cancer-beating moonshots and patient-centric care on their minds, but to pursue these goals, the industry needs new infrastructure to make health data more accessible, useful, and actionable. That’s where APIs and RelayHealth, a clinical connectivity company within health care giant McKesson, come in.

We sat down with Matias Klein, RelayHealth’s vice president of product management, to discuss why APIs are increasingly seen as a cure for data and interoperability woes.

Klein explained that RelayHealth orchestrates healthcare transactions among different participants in the industry. “When you’re connecting people, APIs are really the way that’s done,” he said, noting that APIs offer a way for healthcare transactions to move beyond the electronic data exchange model, or EDI.

EDI is a legacy technology that enables data to be transmitted electronically rather than on paper. While this capability was an important step in the quest for more accessible health records, EDI is a slow-moving, hard-to-decipher system that neither makes healthcare data particularly actionable nor integrates well with more modern technologies.

“It’s really hard for innovators to build next-generation, consumer-centric, mobile-first apps if they have to figure out how to interact with data that is EDI,” Klein said.

By implementing API management, RelayHealth makes it easier for disparate systems to interact, and creates a consistent experience for developers across all its products, Klein said. This standardization helps to align internal teams, and to navigate complex challenges such as regulatory requirements.

“When you put a service out in healthcare, it’s regulated,” Klein said. “If we didn’t have a shared platform that handled that, each and every product team would have to go figure that out on their own.”

“When I can reuse something that already exists, it’s dramatically faster than having to build it myself,” he added.

API management also helps RelayHealth maintain strong relationships with its customers—and to continue the collaborations necessary for health care to begin tackling its loftiest goals. APIs make the company easier to work with and introduce a “loyalty and stickiness,” Klein said.

“When people have a good experience, they come back for more.”

For more on the role APIs play in interoperability, watch this earlier conversation we had with Klein.

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