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J Med Internet Res. 2019 Feb 1;21(2):e12902. doi: 10.2196/12902.

Beyond One-Off Integrations: A Commercial, Substitutable, Reusable, Standards-Based, Electronic Health Record-Connected App.

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Computational Health Informatics Program, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, United States.
Department of Biomedical Informatics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.


The Substitutable Medical Apps and Reusable Technology (SMART) Health IT project launched in 2010 to facilitate the development of medical apps that are scalable and substitutable. SMART defines an open application programming interface (API) specification that enables apps to connect to electronic health record systems and data warehouses without custom integration efforts. The SMART-enabled version of the Meducation app, developed by Polyglot, has been implemented at scores of hospitals and clinics in the United States, nation-wide. After expanding their product's reach by relying on a universal, open API for integrations, the team estimates that one project manager can handle up to 20 simultaneous implementations. The app is made available through the SMART App Gallery, an open app store that supports discovery of apps and, because the apps are substitutable, market competition. This case illustrates how a universal open API for patient and clinician-facing health IT systems supported and accelerated commercial success for a start-up company. Giving end users a wide and ever-growing choice of apps that leverage data generated by the health care system and patients at home through a universal, open API is a promising and generalizable approach for rapid diffusion of innovation across health systems.


application programming interfaces; electronic medical records

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