The bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, passed in late 2016, included a mandate on the healthcare industry to leverage Application Programming Interface (API) standards to improve the interoperability of patient information. APIs are the technical foundation for the apps we use every day to book travel and shop online. One of the goals of the Cures Act was to apply this technology to healthcare and enable physician practices, other providers and even health plans to share information using APIs. For patients, the goal of the Cures Act is to give them control of their data on their smartphone.
The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (HIT), the primary government agency tasked with implementing this provision of the Cures Act, has proposed a set of rules to permit health information to be accessed, exchanged and used “without special effort” through use of APIs.