The what and why of APIs for your addictions organization
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare clinics and organizations were forced to leverage disparate systems as a short-term solution in order to continue caring for patients. Organizations quickly implemented different video conferencing solutions, charting software, and e-prescription platforms. The consequences of using disparate systems are felt across providers and patients, with a lack of connected patient data and effective care, provider burnout, and more. Although the pandemic magnified these challenges for providers and patients, they existed in healthcare way before the start of the pandemic in 2020. So, how can healthcare organizations increase interoperability between their infrastructure so they:
1. Connect with other systems without restrictions, so patient data seamlessly flows from system to system.
2. Eliminate the digital “swivel chair”, meaning that administrators no longer have to enter the same data into multiple systems.
3. Maximize efficiency across every workflow so providers and administrators can refocus on managing superior telehealth operations.
One way to increase interoperability between systems and technology is by leveraging APIs. An API is an Application Programming Interface that enables disconnected technology and software to “talk to each other”. An API connects software across an organization so data is shared between them.
How can APIs help encourage data sharing and software integration?
Healthcare organizations that employ an array of technology to capture patient information and healthcare data may leverage an open API. Here’s a real example of how it works:
- An administrator gathers a client’s health insurance information and enters into the client’s electronic medical record (EMR).
- The same administrator may use a different platform to review session notes and follow up with a client to schedule another appointment.
- Usually, the administrator would have to find the information in the client’s EMR and enter the same information in the client’s record in the organization’s telehealth solution.
- If the administrator schedules a new appointment for the client, they have to enter the appointment information in the EMR and telehealth solution separately.
- At this point, the administrator has spent double the time completing the same administrative task of finding and entering client information. This administrator completes these tasks for about 50 client’s per day, meaning they are manually entering patient data 50 times more than required.
However, the organizations decided to leverage an API to improve this process. As a result, the administrator enters insurance information and appointment information only once in the organization’s telehealth solution, which then automatically feeds this data into the organization’s EMR. When the administrator needs client information, they only have to look at one solution, not both.
How will an API change the way virtual treatment is delivered?
With a comprehensive telehealth solution that does not rely on manual processes to deliver virtual treatment, addictions organizations can reduce the administrative burden placed on staff by standardizing processes through integrations. Compared to Zoom, comprehensive telehealth solutions leverage APIs to automatically synchronize data entry to eliminate the error-prone and time-consuming process of a manual entry. As a result, staff no longer need to spend 7% to 14% more time on manual processes and administrative tasks, and organizations can instead use this time to begin treating more clients and eliminate their ever-growing waitlist.
APIs help reduce operational inefficiencies across healthcare organizations, especially as virtual treatment operations become more complex with more platforms and systems available. With free flowing data, providers and administrators are able to manage patients and their care in a more efficient way with the information they need at their fingertips, helping them to treat patients holistically and effectively.