According to a recent article in VentureBeat, only “1.3 percent of the application programming interfaces (APIs) on ProgrammableWeb are associated with clinical services.” Though the current usage is small, there is potential for APIs to impact healthcare efforts going forward. We’ve seen hints of this through our experience developing and providing our own LCOI-API.
In the past year, we’ve been fortunate to have others such as Fred Trotter and the Hive Group recognize the value of what the LCOI-API can do. Fellow pharma company, Merck & Co. shared a requirement for the API through comments on our API page which we were able to meet. They subsequently built an in-house iPad application leveraging the LCOI-API. And, patient advocate Jeri Burtchell has used the API to offer relevant and up-to-date clinical trial information on her website for multiple sclerosis patients.
Partners in Research Example
Clinical research can be an important option for a patient to consider on his or her healthcare journey.
Some patient groups feel that it’s important to offer easy-to-access, relevant, up-to-date information about clinical trials for their members online. Doing so can help patients identify options for participating in research that may benefit them and others who have the same condition. The LCOI-API helps by delivering the desired clinical trial information accessed through an organization’s web site.
For example, Jeri Burtchell, founder of Partners in Research, a multiple sclerosis advocacy group , used the LCOI-API to build a section of her website that helps patients find real-time information about currently enrolling multiple sclerosis clinical trials.
Jeri wanted her site’s visitors to have access to a dynamic list of studies that stayed current with the latest information available on ClinicalTrials.gov, a site that houses information about publicly and privately funded clinical studies conducted worldwide. She also wanted them to be able to narrow their searches based on specific types of multiple sclerosis, and based on which trials were actively recruiting.
Jeri knew that this information was available on ClinicalTrials.gov, but, despite the fact that she’s a skilled and experienced user of that site, she could not find a way to access and integrate the information relevant to her needs. Using our open API, which pulls information from ClinicalTrials.gov, she was able to set up the “Find Clinical Trials” section of her website in a way that she felt would be most helpful to patients like herself.
This is a good example of how APIs can be valuable in healthcare and drug development. No one knows better what patients need than patients themselves. APIs can be a valuable resource to allow patients to access and contextualize the specific information they need.
APIs can help stimulate innovation
By providing open API access to information in internet-friendly ways, it’s possible to stimulate innovation.
Challenges like the Patient Engagement App Challenge encourage collaboration and creativity among patients, researchers and developers. For this particular challenge, sponsors UBC, Enlight BioSciences, Partnership In Clinical Trials conference and Lilly have asked developers to consider a range of currently available healthcare APIs and use them to create an app that will help patients who are currently enrolled in clinical trials.
The deadline for entries is February 11, 2014. Soon after that, you’ll be able to take a look at all of the submissions and vote for your favorites. If you’re a developer or designer, there’s still plenty of time to enter!
Enhancing the LCOI-API
The purpose of the LCOI-API is to provide data and functionality that enable those in the healthcare ecosystem – patients, researchers, developers, and providers – to surface and leverage clinical trials information to meet their needs.
To further bring utility and value to clinical trial information, we’re working in collaboration with Novartis and Pfizer to develop a clinical trial “target profile.” Target profiles will include Clinicaltrials.gov and other clinical trial information, selected, purposed and structured specifically to support matching of patients to clinical trials. The collaboration includes plans to demonstrate how Blue Button+ technology can be used to match patient health records with trial target profiles.
Target profiles will be open and available in the healthcare ecosystem for anyone to use. The LCOI-API is fundamental to this effort, and is a foundational part of the effort to bringing study target profile information for patients to match against.
We’re excited to explore how we can assist in supporting innovation in the healthcare ecosystem associated with clinical research, and look forward to your ideas and participation in bringing clinical trial information to those who can benefit most from it. We welcome your thoughts and ideas—please feel free to comment!