Kaiser Permanente launches open health API with facility info, self-tracking data coming soon

By Jonah Comstock
07:48 am

KP InterchangeIntegrated health system Kaiser Permanente is launching an open API, called Interchange, that will enable developers to use publicly available information from Kaiser Permanente in their own apps. Initially, Kaiser Permanente will share data about the location, hours of operation and specialty information for the organization's 37 hospitals and more than 600 medical offices. That location data formed the basis for the company's first-ever mobile app, KP Locator.

Phil Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer at Kaiser Permanente, emphasized during a short speech at Health Datapalooza in Washington, D.C. this week that KP has no plans to share their patient's personal health information via the API.

In the future, the platform will make it easier for developers to pull in self-tracking data to Interchange. A logo in KP's whitepaper about Interchange suggests activity trackers Fitbit and Jawbone, and gamified kids activity platform Zamzee, could be initial partners. That activity data will be shared back to Kaiser Permanente, according to the Interchange FAQ page.

"We hope that individuals gain greater benefit from their devices by understanding how sharing and combining data may help them make healthy choices throughout the day," the FAQ states. "For example, APIs may allow a developer to create a mobile app that combines individually generated data from a consumer device (e.g. Jawbone UP, Fitbit Flex and BodyMedia Core) with locations of restaurants to recommend food choices based on calories burned throughout the day. Another example may allow care providers better insight into their patients' health habits by providing real and self-reported levels of exercise between doctor's visits."

The organization is also planning to make public research publications available through the API.

Interchange is similar to a Aetna's CarePass initiative, which also includes an open API, and also has a stated goal of creating an integrated mobile health experience in the future.

"We’re excited to see what developers come up with as we open up secure, public data sets," Fasano 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."

KP offers a number of apps already that could be integrated into this system in the future. Their PHR app My Health Manager has been downloaded half a million times, according to the company. At HIMSS in New Orleans in March, the company also showcased some wellness apps it was using internally, including a white labelled version of 100Plus called Hopp2It, for its employees.

Kaiser Permanente also recently announced its involvement with another open API project, Open mHealth. Through Open mHealth's Catalyst initiative, Kaiser Permanente in San Diego will work with Ginger.io and Entra Health Systems on a Type 2 diabetes pilot. The pilot will integrate behavioral analysis from Ginger.io’s app and glucose and weight data from the Entra MyGlucoHealth system using Qualcomm’s 2Net platform.

"We have a very talented and dedicated group of innovative clinicians who are working with multiple vendors, all in a single pilot using the Open mHealth architecture. While individual apps alone can provide modest value, it is the coordination of sensing technologies, analytics, behavioral economics, and clinical workflows which constitute the critic al opportunity to create the 'behavioral symphony for wellness' necessary to effectively and persistently modify behaviors to improve the health of a population," John Mattison, CMIO and assistant medical director at Kaiser Permanente.


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