Health care is a massive market opportunity for any developer — and yet, only about 1.3 percent of the application programming interfaces (APIs) on ProgrammableWeb are associated with clinical services.
In Mountain View. Calif, a company called DrChrono announced today that it has opened up its API so developers can take advantage of its massive network of 53,000 physicians and 2.6 million patients and build new health applications. The company will vet the best apps from its ecosystem and feature them prominently on its website.
In its four-and-a-half years, DrChrono has made a name for itself for its free mobile and tablet-based applications, which helps both doctors and patients track electronic health records and documents.
“Silicon Valley’s smartest minds are just starting to learn and work on fixing health care, and we want to help facilitate change and let some of the best minds work with us,” said Michael Nusimow, DrChrono’s cofounder and chief executive.
“It takes years to get access to some of the big guys’ APIs, and there is a vetting process that just stops innovation in its tracks,” said cofounder and chief operating officer Daniel Kivatinos, who claims that many of the larger health vendors charge developers upfront fees. “We are trying to do the reverse, allowing developers to get access to our API and be able to build without any walls,” he said.
DrChrono has been considering opening up its API for four years. But the company needed to build up its base of doctors and patients first. It also took some time to build the API right — Kivatinos told me that he used the restful JSON API, not HL7, which he considers to be “messy and hard to work with.”
And the timing seemed right for a more open approach, with the FDA releasing its final guidance after years of delays.
This number is set to increase in the near future, with federal regulators removing barriers to medical app innovation. In late September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its final guidance with information on how it plans to regulate thousands of mobile health apps. Devs no longer had reason to fear that the feds would crack down on their health-related apps.
Already, a number of health startups are using DrChrono’s API — primarily to integrate electronic medical record information into their offerings.
Ari Tulla, chief executive of BetterDoctor, a company that helps people find quality care providers nearby, is using the DrChrono API to integrate patient records into the service. This vastly improves the search experience, as patients are connected with doctors based on their medical history and set of conditions.
“We are excited to use the new API and data sources that are emerging in the health market,” said Tulla.