The recent announcement by AthenaHealth that their APIs had been called one billion times serves as both a milestone for the use of APIs in healthcare and a reminder that API quality is as important as quantity. After all, McDonalds may have served billions of hamburgers, but no one is going to confuse them with a hand-fashioned burger with homemade condiments and the freshest fixings at a fancy restaurant!

The title may not be very sexy, but the content and direction of CMS’s latest fact sheet on information blocking should grab everyone’s attention. As the fact sheet makes clear, in order to qualify for the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), eligible clinicians must attest that they have not knowingly and willfully limited or restricted the compatibility or interoperability of their certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. The fact sheet specifically calls out technical, policy and workflow decisions as the keys to meeting the requirement and, by implication, the ways that providers and EMR vendors might fail to show “good faith efforts” to meet these requirements.

As discussed by my colleague, Dave Levin MD, in his recent blog post, Liberate Applications with API-Based EMR Integration, application programming interfaces (APIs) allow seamless data exchange and integration into clinical workflows. APIs provide robust, EMR-agnostic integration that rapidly deploy and can quickly evolve. While APIs have many benefits, they also provide additional security for health systems and protection of patient privacy.