API stands for Application Program Interface and it is a way that two computer applications can communicate and interact without understanding their respective inner workings. You can think of APIs as analogous to an electric wall socket.
Our imaginary electric socket API is standard and electronics manufacturers understand how to build their plugs in order to draw power from the socket. When we plug something into a socket, nobody has to understand the inner workings of the power system in order to use the electricity. Maybe one day our power comes from the electric company and the next we get it from the solar panels on the roof. Either way, the plug and electric flow is the same.
Modern Software Needs APIs
APIs are powerful tools for software engineers because it means that they don’t have to build every single component in their system from scratch. Imagine if electronic device manufacturers had to come and rewire your house every time you bought a new television! APIs avoid the same problem and software engineers can focus on the part of their application that they view as their core competency.
Moving Healthcare Forward
In healthcare, APIs are forming the foundation of a new way for health systems, doctors, and patients to curate and interact with data. Every time someone builds an API that can be used – and re-used – by other developers, the state of the art in healthcare advances.