APIs will save us all one day

The New York Times released its API for campaign finance a week or so ago. It has been the in thing for a while. I wouldn’t say everyone has entered the era of Big Data yet, but organizations are definitely seeing the value of opening their doors for people to build something even greater with their data and services.

It is a shame that health care is not nearly technologically evolved enough to take that path also. I imagine a future where doctors’ professional records are fully transparent to the public through PUSH APIs providing treatment data to various web services/communities. There is huge value in health professional data, but you can’t just wish an effective health care IT system into existence with some laws and government money. It needs to be grown organically through repeated cycles of innovation.

I spoke recently with several people about personal health records’ importance to the demand for health care IT. I believe in a few years personal health records will become mainstream and drive doctors to adopt digital records and others to innovate.

In the future, open medical data will improve care through greater accountability, and increase the public’s understanding and awareness. More than one person has observed that abundant data has the potential to change the way we make conclusions. Better decisions become cheaper and cheaper. Freely accessible data has the potential to eliminate ethical dilemmas in drug testing and lower costs in post approval clinical pharmaceutical trials by changing the way studies are conducted. I am excited about opportunities to apply medical data for public benefit.

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