One Health Tech Marketplace to Rule Them All5 min read
In this article, we identify the tools, practices, and processes needed for a useful health tech marketplace. We also explore:
- What goes into a healthy, robust health tech marketplace for health technology vendors, healthcare providers, and payers.
- What environment and tools allow them to innovate, stay ahead of health consumer digital expectations, and connect important patient health data with the greater health ecosystem.
- What helps healthcare stakeholders remain compliant with regulations around sensitive personal health data.
Let’s start at the beginning: API
Application programming interface (API) is not just some ephemeral space existing within the software development microcosm. It is a software technology intermediary or essential gateway that allows two applications to “talk to each other” and exchange data. API technology is used in so many ways that you’ve likely interacted at least once a day with an application that is supported by it. For instance, when you check the weather on your mobile phone or send an instant message on Facebook.
In healthcare, APIs are technology rock stars. Their use by providers, payers, and healthcare vendors has been steadily climbing in the last decade. APIs:
- Create greater operational efficiency
- Better health outcomes
- Reduced healthcare costs
The reason for API’s recent elevated status all boils down to data interoperability.
Health data should be more readily available and shareable between all players in the healthcare ecosystem. Currently, much of the health data is siloed and disparate. APIs change all that. The 21st Century Cures Act — a federal regulation that creates the urgency to move forward with allowing for the patient-consented, secure exchange of patient health data among health professionals — takes API to a new level. API is now the healthcare industry technology disruptor.
Now, let’s talk about health tech marketplaces
Electronic health record system vendors like Epic and Allscripts have them, and so do public and private hospitals. Marketplaces with features such as API documentation and management, application hosting with third-party development and innovation, and the marketing of applications have been around for over a decade in the healthcare industry. Their functionality varies depending on the type, size, and business scope of the company. The need for connecting application software and services to create even more benefits for healthcare consumers is clear.
Security is a challenge for the healthcare industry. Security slows progress in developing applications that allow for an interconnected network of data exchange outside of a healthcare organization’s four walls. Ensuring sensitive health information is secure while it’s shared across the health ecosystem when a patient gives consent is a crucial step toward a more effective healthcare ecosystem.
What’s important to consider with health tech marketplaces is the API standardization efforts that support the secure exchange of data, such as FHIR (fast healthcare interoperability resources) and HL7 (health level 7). These are the international standards for transferring data between various healthcare providers. When building health tech API marketplaces, adhering to FHIR and HL7 standards is a core requirement for any marketplace development.
Beyond minimum viable product
APIs are at the heart of modernization initiatives in healthcare. They connect physicians and healthcare providers with patient data more rapidly and help streamline operations. Marketplaces also provide revenue streams for API producers when set up properly. Recurring billing for API usage or advertising costs for the marketing of applications are all acceptable forms of revenue. Marketplaces need the right tools and technologies for an open, interactive exchange of buyers and sellers and where the building and testing of applications can occur with ease.
Health tech marketplaces must have:
- Applications provisioning
- API documentation management
- Transaction logs
- Analytics and reporting
- Applications gallery
- Partners gallery
- API management
- Users and tenant management
- Cloud architecture
- Sandbox provisioning for building and testing
A good health tech marketplace should provide users with the extended functionality of the core solution to save on developers’ efforts such as software development kits (SDKs), sandbox environments for testing, and application upload and management via a developer’s portal.
A healthy marketplace should improve the visibility of partner offerings and third-party solutions, enabling third-party applications and services downloaded, installed, or requested — all in one place.
An API marketplace also needs to accelerate and simplify app and extension development, empowering developers to drive their ideas into real products that contribute to the whole ecosystem. Also important, the level of back-end support needed for API consumers and the types of fee structures necessary for products.
To learn more about what goes into the proper setup of marketplaces for healthcare innovation and how your IT and technology peers in the industry are thinking about them, watch this on-demand webinar, “Accelerating Interoperability: Health Tech Marketplaces of the Future.”