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Kaiser Permanente Launches Open API to Unleash Power of Digital Health

June 4, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Aims to produce better health apps for Kaiser's 9.1 million members and beyond

Kaiser Permanente has announced the launch of its first application programming interface program, Interchange by Kaiser Permanente. The secure program enables easy collaboration between Kaiser Permanente and application developers to improve healthcare and health-related experiences in ways that never before have been possible, according to Kaiser officials.

Interchange makes information that is already in the public domain accessible in a more efficient way, enabling app development outside of Kaiser Permanente, thereby benefiting consumers in the form of a broader variety of apps. Keeping patient information private and secure is a top priority at Kaiser Permanente and personal health information will not be made available externally via API technology, Kaiser officials said.

Kaiser Permanente will kick off the launch of Interchange by Kaiser Permanente with a code-a-thon June 5-6 in Washington, D.C., during Health Data and Innovation Week. Developers will be invited to create apps using Kaiser Permanente public facility and location information.

“We’re excited to see what developers come up with as we open up secure, public data sets,” Phil Fasano, executive vice president and CIO of Kaiser Permanente, said in a statement. “Imagine being able to download a mobile app so customized that it shows you nearby restaurants that cater to your healthy lifestyle and offers food suggestions based on the amount of activity you have completed in the last week, your nutrition plan and friends' reviews. Once you've finished your meal, a device synced to your app reports your blood-sugar levels and reminds you to pick up insulin, then tells you the nearest Kaiser Permanente pharmacy where you can pick it up. Interchange by Kaiser Permanente is the beginning of that possibility.”

Initially, Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will make the healthcare provider’s public facility and location information available for third-party developers to integrate into apps. This includes location, hours of operation and specialty information for Kaiser Permanente's 37 hospitals and more than 600 medical offices.

An API is an interface with pieces of code that allow applications to communicate with each other, explained Kaiser officials in a statement. They are crafted to expose only chosen data while safeguarding other parts of the application. Application developers use APIs to create integrated apps that provide a seamless and more dynamic user experience.

An example of a commonly used API is foursquare. The foursquare API is used by Instagram, Vine, Evernote, Garmin, Uber and other applications to integrate location data into their services.

Future plans for Interchange by Kaiser Permanente include enabling developers to create apps that leverage activity-based data from tracking devices. If a member chooses to securely share his or her activity information through Interchange by Kaiser Permanente, developers can create lifestyle apps that integrate with the Kaiser Permanente location API or other health apps. Kaiser Permanente is also exploring making public research publications available through Interchange by Kaiser Permanente.



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