How To Integrate Third-Party APIs In Healthcare Apps

How to Integrate Third-Party APIs in Healthcare Apps

Health & Wellbeing

Patient satisfaction with telemedicine solutions has been declining since 2021. The main reason for that is the limited services offered by most of the mHealth products. However, the market experienced lots of changes during the last few years, so it isn’t a problem today to improve customer satisfaction by enhancing your telemedicine software. API integration is the key to cost-effective and effective enhancement.

We created this article to help you explore the process of API integration, how you can benefit your telemedicine product, and the steps you need to know.

Minimize Unnecessary Work

APIs integrated into your medical software are pre-made tools with specific functionality. They allow your team to build the software twice faster, reducing unnecessary manual work that takes hours to be done.

Secure Data Storage

Data security is essential for medical software development. APIs are an excellent choice for companies looking to position themselves as secure and trusted care providers, implementing APIs into a healthcare app must ensure multi-level protection and compliance with a range of vital regulations such as HIPAA.

Share Medical Data Efficiently

APIs allow your app to organize safe and seamless data exchange. It allows patients to easily view all their medical records, share data with the healthcare provider and get medical care as soon as possible.

Promote Innovations

Accuracy and quality of medical care are based on the evidence base. APIs are used by developers to build the database by easing data access for patients and doctors. Healthcare companies will be able to cooperate and bring innovations to the medical industry.

Provide Better Care

APIs are used to connect a vast range of systems. It will allow healthcare providers to get a complete picture of the condition and treatment history, allowing healthcare providers to make more accurate treatment plans.

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1. Apple Health Records

This is one of the most popular APIs used in healthcare app development. It connects over 500 health systems to encrypt, retrieve, and aggregate Electronic Health Records (EHR) into a single place. Based on iOS devices, healthcare providers will be able to access data in different ways, including:

  • Health vitals
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Allergies
  • Immunizations
  • Lab results
  • Done and upcoming procedures

2. Bluestream

This API is widely used by hospitals and private clinics since it helps to integrate virtual appointments, remote booking, as well as real-time activity tracking of services they offer. This API is also HIPAA compliant, meaning it meets security rules allowing clinics to offer HIPAA-compliant video conferencing through WebRTC streaming protocol. It includes the following::

  • One-click join;
  • Screen sharing;
  • Image capture;
  • Live chat.

3. DrChrono

DrChrono offers an APIs suite for telehealth applications. Apps powered by this API allow patients to schedule and perform virtual visits from their EHR, so doctors can access patient notes in real-time without wasting time during the appointment.

4. Isabel Healthcare

Healthcare organizations worldwide use the Isabel Symptom Checker (SC), which helps improve diagnosis by matching symptoms with a table of 6,000+ diseases with 96% accuracy. This API can be quickly integrated to work as a virtual triage solution and encourage patients to engage in a patient portal or an app. 

5. TruePill

This API allows patients to connect through telemedicine apps with their pharmacy. This allows them to learn about the drug they’ve been prescribed, allergies, interactions, as well as side effects they may experience. The healthcare API develops a link between patients and pharmacies, offering a suite of e-prescribing services. 

6. PEPID

Pepid’s drug checker API is excellent for telehealth applications and point-of-care information systems. Its functions allow the development of a holistic overview of a patient’s wellness and medication. Functions offered by this API include:

  • Pill identification;
  • IV compatibility;
  • Dosage calculator;
  • Allergy checker;
  • Lab manual;
  • Interactions checker.

1. Preventing Unauthorized Data Access

Preventing unauthorized access to sensitive data is still the biggest concern for most clinics and companies. These apps and APIs require a strong security posture, including authentication and authorization processes allowing users to access only the data they should.

2. Regular Audit Trails

The healthcare industry is highly regulated, and it is especially vital for healthcare applications storing users’ data. Depending on the app’s function and API, you may need to log all API-based activity. This should be done so all data flow can be viewed and systems accurately audited.

3. Data Entitlements to Secure Data

Healthcare companies developing applications should know exactly who can access data and at what level. In the case of a healthcare API, data entitlements have to be in place for every party with access.

4. Preventing System Overload

Integrating APIs can overload the system since it grows and add more implementations over time. You need to apply policies that will control the system load and limit the number of calls that API users can make.

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Step 1. Hire a Team 

Whether you have your team or have just started to consider API integration into your healthcare app, you will need extra expertise in this field. You can consider different options, including freelance services, staff augmentation, or outsourcing. The model you choose will be based on budget, existing skills of your team (if you have one), and timelines you have. Consider hiring a dedicated team to reduce costs and kick off the project as soon as possible.

Step 2. Build the Project Within the API Provider System 

Your development team will need to register in the API provider system since every call to the third-party API system needs authentication. 

Step 3. Receive the Key and Authorization Token 

Once your team is registered within the system, they will receive an API key so the system will be able to identify the calling project and authentication token to ensure that the calling user has the required access and rights.

Step 4. Integrate the API Framework 

Now your team is ready to install the chosen SDK with APIs to an application build environment through dependency managers like CocoaPods for iOS and Maven for Android and cross-platform apps. 

Step 5. Use API Request Instances and Methods

In order for the app to use the new features added through API integration, the development team should implement new functionality using dependencies made during the previous stage.  

Pros

1. Increased Interoperability

APIs are used to enable different software systems to communicate smoothly with each other, regardless of the platform or programming language used to build them. This reduces manual work for healthcare organizations and enhances interoperability between systems.

2. Improved Efficiency

API-based infrastructures allow development teams to reuse the code from existing systems, which saves time, reduces cost, and boosts business processes.

3. Better User Experience

APIs allow third-party developers to build applications that easily integrate with existing software systems, which leads to a better user experience. 

4. Higher Flexibility

APIs enable higher flexibility, allowing developers to choose the best programming languages and frameworks based on business needs.

5. New Revenue Streams

APIs added functionality allows organizations to open up new revenue streams by granting third-party developers access to their software systems.

Cons

1. Security Issues

APIs can be quite vulnerable and become a reason for data breaches. Most common types of attacks where APIS are targets are SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. Therefore, it is essential to implement security protocols to protect the app against these threats.

2. Complexity

Some APIs are complex, and they require extra expertise. They also need a team of developers to implement and maintain them in a proper way so the app stays on the safe side of the law.

3. Compatibility Concerns

APIs can also come with compatibility issues between different versions of the same software. They can also be tricky to connect between different systems, which can lead to errors if not tested.

4. Dependency on Third-Party Developers

APIs hugely rely on third-party developers. This leads to dependencies outside the organization’s control that own the system itself. This also puts the software in danger in case of an attack.

5. Governance and Management

Most modern healthcare APIs need proper governance and management to guarantee they are used the way they should be.

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1. Prescription Fulfillment API

Clinics use APIs to fulfill and refill prescriptions. For instance, Walgreens pharmacy prescription API lets customers of third-party applications buy drug refills that were filled by one of the pharmacies. Users can also ask to transfer the needed drug to the nearby pharmacy and get refills instantly. API integration also sends notifications when the drug has arrived.

2. Healthcare Data Storage API

Storing patients’ data is essential today since it can affect the treatment, and data can be lost using paperwork. In addition, patient data is sensitive, so it should be properly protected, and the app must comply with laws and regulations. For instance, AdvancedMD Patient APIs allow developers to safely access patient data and display it to the responsible party, like doctors or patients themselves.

3. Health Tracking API

Health tracking APIs are used to track users’ exercises, health data, and goal tracking. They are widely integrated into various wearable devices like smartwatches for real-time tracking and informative reports. For example, RESTful API can track things like exercises and exercise-related inputs. 

4. Health information API 

Apps integrated with this API enable access to general and specific health data on various topics, including:

  • Symptoms information
  • Lifestyle tips
  • Medicine data, side effects of drugs, and how to take them

5. Analytics API

APIs are also used to collect and analyze data. Let’s take Google cloud healthcare API as an example. It allows standardized data interchange within Google cloud-based healthcare solutions and applications. It also offers an entirely managed, scalable, and enterprise-grade development environment. 

Review all API Documentation Carefully

You can’t benefit from the API’s functionality without referring to its documentation. API documentation is a valuable tool that offers essential information like usage limitations, data input and output, and other implementation details.

Select Reliable and Well-Tested APIs

Some APIs have been shown to have a high risk of downtime since they depend on third-party services. And the risk is growing every time these same APIs are poorly maintained or/and untested. This leads to poor user experience and can even cause revenue loss in case of a data breach, which also happens with poor-quality APIs.

Audit Your APIs for Security Vulnerabilities

This point is linked to the previous one. Some APIS are known for high-security levels and encrypted connections. Others are poorly maintained, so they can become easy targets for hackers. You should ensure the APIS you will integrate with your healthcare app is protected from data theft and common security threats.

APIs Should Scale with Your Business

Another vital point to consider when choosing the right API is to ensure it will be able to scale along with your user base. APIS can overload the system, which causes many issues, so you don’t want to continually change third-party services as your company grows.

Interexy is a leading healthcare development company with years of expertise in building secure, stable, and scalable mHealth and telemedicine solutions. We offer end-to-end healthcare app development services that cover the entire cycle of development. From the investigation stage and planning to successful and compliant apps ready to use – we have the largest staff of healthcare developers available on the market.

Our team is also skilled in blockchain technology and API integrations, so we ensure security at each step of the process and use only reliable APIs for each client. You can delegate the entire process, hire specialists to power up your existing team, or get the full dedicated team on board. 

If you’re looking for a telemedicine app development company to overcome the biggest medical app development challenges, don’t hesitate to get in touch to find out how we can help you. Our Florida-based company is on standby to collaborate with you and set you up for a successful launch. Buckle up!

If you want to build a stable, efficient, and secure custom healthcare application with third-party API integrations, Interexy offers you skilled developers with years of background in that field. We ensure your APIs are properly built and continuously maintained. Contact us for further questions.

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