APIs are critical to enabling interoperability and the exchange of electronic health records (EHR) envisioned when the the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law. Yet APIs are also the #1 attack vector across all industries -- so how can healthcare security teams balance EHR and interoperability with HIPPA compliance and safeguarding sensitive patient health information (PHI)?
This article will walk through the role APIs play in healthcare interoperability and break down 5 key steps to helping ensure your APIs and patient data stay secure.
TLDR Key Takeaways
APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are crucial to delivering EHR interoperability.
Security teams must balance the benefits that EHR interoperability brings with the need to maintain patient privacy and comply with regulations like HIPAA
API Governance and Security Testing are critical steps to ensure interoperability while maintaining patient privacy
Interoperability in healthcare is essential for creating a more connected, patient-centered healthcare system that delivers better patient outcomes, improves efficiency, and reduces costs. So, in December 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law. This act aims to promote innovation, improve patient outcomes, and strengthen public health through various initiatives and funding measures – including interoperability. The Cures Act contains key provisions to improve the interoperability of electronic health records (EHRs), making it easier for healthcare providers to access and share patient data.
APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) are crucial to delivering EHR interoperability. APIs allow different EHR systems to communicate with each other and exchange data in a standardized and secure manner. With APIs, disparate providers and institutions can easily communicate to support clinical decision-making and enable telehealth platforms and patient portals, improving the quality of patient care and outcomes. APIs can also enhance the efficiency of healthcare workflows by automating data exchange between different systems, reducing administrative burdens, and enabling healthcare providers to focus on delivering high-quality care.
The challenge? How to balance the benefits that EHR interoperability brings with the need to maintain patient privacy and comply with regulations like HIPAA, which establish stringent standards for safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI).
Fortunately, some simple steps will ensure sensitive patient data remains protected and secure while providing the right people with access to information at the right time to deliver high-quality care. Here are some critical steps to ensure interoperability while maintaining patient privacy: