Google Cloud

Building the future of e-health

Digitalization brings excellent possibilities for improving our healthcare system. With the global population exceeding seven billion, digital systems have become necessary components of our healthcare system. E-health refers to the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the healthcare sector, including the use of electronic medical records and telemedicine. 

According to the 2019 HIMSS Analytics Annual eHealth Survey, over a third of European e-health professionals think telemedicine services will become the most significant trend in e-health. However, the technology behind telemedicine is not equally adopted everywhere. This article explains why interoperability and application program interfaces (APIs) are key ingredients for improving patient-centered telemedicine and how this can be achieved.

Creating interoperability for maximum impact
Telemedicine refers to the provision of remote health services, such as connecting with healthcare professionals over the phone. To give you an idea, please read how the startup Sesame offers telehealth services to support local healthcare providers. The deployment of telemedicine benefits patients because it allows them to keep better track of their health, and, by acting in time, possibly prevent it from deteriorating. Telemedicine services are expected to gain importance rapidly over the next five years. Decreasing healthcare resources and a reduction of physical health facilities push healthcare providers to innovate and leverage new tech opportunities.   

As telemedicine relies heavily on data, it requires a faster and easier flow of health data between healthcare providers, settings, and locations. Healthcare organizations will eventually lose relevance if they do not focus on fast, easy, and safe data transfer. Implementing and deploying cross-organizational electronic health records (EHRs) are critical for the successful implementation of telemedicine services. In more digitally mature countries, such as the Nordics and the Netherlands, EHRs have been implemented for quite some time. 

However, the implementation of EHRs alone does not lead to high digital maturity: creating faster, better, and more efficient healthcare requires more. General interoperability between different EHR systems is needed to get the most out of EHR data and to provide the best possible care to patients. But even in the most digitally mature regions, interoperability between systems remains a barrier: 42% of Dutch and 30% of Nordic healthcare professionals mentioned interoperability issues among their top 3 current e-health challenges, according to the 2019 HIMSS Analytics Annual Health Survey. 

Transforming healthcare with APIs
The industry-wide Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard was developed to improve interoperability in the increasingly complex healthcare field. It provides an efficient, consistent way to share or transfer patient information between healthcare systems. The FHIR standard promotes API usage to optimize EHR interoperability. Enter the Apigee API platform: an API tool that works on any FHIR-server and supports interoperability for apps and data transfer.

So how does Apigee API Platform stimulate the successful deployment of telemedicine and enhance the patient experience? Using Apigee API Platform, healthcare providers can, for example, design apps that provide care to patients at any location. Apigee API Platform, like all Google Cloud healthcare products, also meets industry-specific privacy, security, and compliance regulations such as HIPAA. It enables developers to manage multiple APIs in a cohesive ecosystem, which allows multiple back-end systems and data sources to be combined securely, seamlessly, and easily. Rather than having to worry about compliance and API management, healthcare providers can focus on transforming healthcare with patient-centered healthcare applications. 

API-supported telehealth at Rush University Medical Center
The Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center improves patient experience and outcome accessibility with the MyRush app. The Apigee API Platform enabled the development of the MyRush app, which allows patients to view their test results, request prescription refills, manage appointments, and communicate with medical professionals. 

Dr. Shafiq Rab, Senior Vice President & CIO, Rush System for Health and Rush University Medical Center, states: "Innovation is part of the medical business today. Healthcare products, education, care, and experience – they're all becoming API-based now. That's why it's critical to get into the API game." Further, Dr. Rab says Apigee API Platform enables collaboration, which is the key to success in today’s world. 

See the video below for more on how Rush University Medical Center provides remote care to patients with Apigee: 


To learn more about how to create interoperability and transform healthcare with APIs, please click here.