How APIs Will Impact Health Care Organizations With The New Cures Act

Application programing interfaces (APIs) are a set of standards that govern how software applications interact with each other. APIs are essential in health care data exchange, whether for data analytics, research, or creating new ways to access electronic health records (EHR.)

APIs are needed when two software components interact, whether in an operating system or on the web. They make it easier and more efficient for people building health care software to access data faster while reducing duplication or security errors.


The final interoperability rules, a provision of the 21st Century Cures Act, are designed to make it easier for providers, insurers and patients to exchange health data, by adopting standardized APIs that connect IT systems like electronic health records with third-party apps.

The interoperability rule is intended to empower patients with access to their health information through devices or apps they choose. The underlying goal is choice and competition in health care. Though it will not be implemented until mid-2021, this rule will change a lot of processes.

The finalized rule requires payers to provide a patient access application programming interface (API) which gives patients access to certain health data, including personal data, in accordance with the ONC 21st Century Cures Act final rule. Also, payers must offer a Provider Directory API, which clearly delineates which providers are in-network.

Third-party apps and vendors can use the Patient Access API to give patients access to their data.

Payers must make data available through the API so that it follows the patient from provider to provider and payer to payer. The API must meet HHS standards, established by the ONC 21st Century Cures Act final rule.

APIs should also provide a high level of data security and ensure that medical records are private and protected.

Preventing patient data access or transfer or use of patient data in any way is forbidden (“information blocking”).


APIs could also reduce the amount of patient data that’s shared and allow clinicians to access only the precise data they need, such as a recent treatment plan. That could make clinical decision support (CDS) tools more efficient and reduce unnecessary duplicative tests.


APIs will play a central role for providers, payers, or any health care enterprises that intend to better utilize their data.

Patients need control over their records. The days of patients being kept in the dark are over. APIs can improve the sharing and use of that data in new and exciting ways. This could be the beginning of a new era.

We at PCG are here to help you identify key steps in preparing for compliance of the Final Rule to ensure the interoperability of patient health information. We have the expertise and an assessment tool for you to determine your readiness. For more information on how we can assist you, visit


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