These days, digital information is gold. This is especially true in healthcare, where organizations strategically use health information to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and try to enhance the safety and quality of patient care.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) defines information governance “as an organization-wide framework for managing information throughout its lifecycle and supporting the organization’s strategy, operations, regulatory, legal, risk, and environmental requirements.”
Information governance helps manage and control information by supporting the organization’s activities and ensuring compliance with its duties.
Information governance is what healthcare organizations need to not only tie together data from diverse departments, but to trust that the information is accurate, up-to-date, and privacy protected.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) refers to technology that allows one software program to access the services provided by another software program. APIs help applications “talk” to each other, generally requiring human interaction.
Like any new technology, APIs provide opportunities that come with some risks. There are many concerns regarding APIs, from security to API vendor stability.
There are fears that APIs may open new security vulnerabilities, with apps accessing patient records without receiving proper patient
authorization. While access to health data via APIs does require additional considerations, privacy and security standards, and regulatory compliance needs, the truth is that if properly managed, the benefits by far outweigh the risks.
(source: https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/facas/HITJC_APITF_Recommendations.pdf )
How Are APIs Being Used To Improve Patient Outcomes?
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) believes that the future of health care data interoperability depends on the development and implementation of open APIs and on supporting patients so they can use a secure electronic method to access their information. The CMS MyHealthEData initiative launched in March 2018 is leading by example.
CMS Administrator Seema Verma stated at the HIMSS18 conference that “We need more clinical and payment data being exchanged via APIs, and that data sent to both the provider and consumer. The administration is serving as a convener – joining with patients, clinicians, and innovators to develop more open source APIs for use across the entire digital health information system. And, in addition to APIs, our vision of interoperability by this administration includes not only EHRs, but the entire digital health information ecosystem.”
Next Step? Move Your Organization’s Information Governance Forward
Getting the ball rolling with information governance is often the hardest part, but HIM professionals are ready to take on the challenge.
Kathy Downing, MA, RHIA, CHPS, PMP, senior director of information governance at AHIMA, says that “health system mergers and acquisitions highlight the need for interoperability—defined as the capability of different information systems and software applications to communicate and share information—and information governance (IG).”