How APIs Are Shaping the Future of the HLS Industry

August 17, 2021

Zach Sachen
Principal, Health Services Technology,
Evelyn Reuss
Senior Associate, PwC US

The global pandemic revealed a new imperative in the Healthcare and Life Sciences (HLS) industry: virtualized care.

It’s vital for practitioners to offer digitally enabled, personalized care to their customers (e.g. patient, member). It’s also important for HLS providers to give customers the ability to access personal health information and care resources online, without needing to travel to a physical office or clinic.

The demand for virtual care is not just a product of COVID-19, however. It also aligns with the industry’s evolution toward offering HLS customers better and more individualized care.

We witnessed a lot of incredible innovation in the HLS industry during the pandemic, including accelerated efforts in contact tracing, drug production, and vaccine development and distribution. Yet the time to innovate is not over.

To stay future-ready, those within HLS must continue to make innovation a priority within their digital transformation programs. In this article, we’ll look closely at ways that the HLS industry can digitally transform with scalability, reusability, and interoperability at the forefront of their efforts.

HLS and a future of interoperability

In 2020, we worked with multiple clients within the tech industry, HLS, and public sector to meet the moment. The innovations that resulted from these collaborations—all in the span of 16 months—included advanced contact tracing, accelerated drug production and distribution, and other digital transformation milestones. Alongside global vaccine development and distribution, a feat accomplished at large scale and on an extremely rapid timeline, these innovations revealed the importance of reusability within HLS.

We’re not just referring to the notion of technical reusability—although that certainly plays a role here. During COVID-19, organizations in HLS also discovered what it meant to collaborate to solve problems previously considered unsolvable, as a standalone company and in partnership with other organizations. Such tactical collaboration is repeatable. Organizations’ ability to reuse the large-scale problem-solving approaches and processes they were forced to employ during the pandemic will be critical to their capacity to pivot in the face of a future crisis.

Scalability is also important. The COVID-19 vaccination effort has necessarily been a global one, requiring large-scale R&D, (decentralized) clinical trials, manufacturing, distribution, and monitoring. Such scalability requires vast connectivity. In the context of pandemic innovations, this connectivity translated to a high-level collaboration of minds and technology across industries.

The notions of reusability and scalability align with the information-sharing horizon the HLS industry has been broaching, even before COVID-19. New interoperability mandates (the Cures Act, for example) are requiring organizations within HLS to be transparent about customer data, giving physicians and customers full access to holistic medical records and real-time information.

In meeting such mandates, companies are discovering firsthand what it means to be a part of the larger outcome, and that means making reusability, scalability, and interoperability core components of their digital transformation initiatives. This ultimately leads to better care, but it also allows organizations to grow their businesses and stay both competitive in the market and future-ready.

APIs and digital transformation in HLS

To digitally transform in this way, organizations in HLS need the right technology and strategy in place. The innovative feats of 2020 were possible only because of necessary collaboration within and across industries, and that collaboration hinged on digital integration. That’s where application programming interfaces (APIs) enter the picture.

HLS organizations can harness the power of APIs to deliver reusable and scalable solutions, particularly when supported by a flexible integration platform like MuleSoft. An API-led infrastructure, MuleSoft enables companies to exchange critical information securely and rapidly, making development of drugs and mass distribution of resources like medical supplies—including vaccines and preventative drugs—possible, and at large scales.

The inherent reusability of APIs allows companies to take a more modular and efficient approach to development, especially if they use a platform like Anypoint to rely on prebuilt connectors. This gives businesses self-service capability, enabling them to play a more active role in satisfying customer requests and giving IT more time to focus on innovation and expanding integration strategies. As a holistic, end-to-end tool, MuleSoft urges users to build a more flexible, long-term integration strategy, which is actually more likely to compel the kind of organizational change companies in HLS need to be ready for what the future brings (and to meet interoperability mandates).

That’s because true digital transformation requires both technical and organizational evolution. In some cases, this looks like integration alongside an established center of excellence (CoE) or center for enablement (C4E). In the wake of the pandemic, company-wide enablement is all the more vital, as providers now also need to consider ways that they can better the employee experience—not just the customer experience.

It is understandably difficult to craft a scalable integration strategy that allows for interoperability and manages employee and customer well-being. But the key to digital transformation in HLS is taking the first step after a healthy amount of envisioning. At PwC, we’re here to help you hone your vision and take that first step on the path toward a more scalable and crisis-ready future.

You can learn more about making your business future-ready through the power of APIs in the MuleSoft CONNECT Session Don’t Wait to Innovate: Manage your next crisis now.* We’re also always here to continue the conversation on actionable innovation in HLS—reach out to either of us today for more information.

*Disclaimer: This post is created to highlight PwC’s experience in driving innovations specific to the healthcare industry and PwC’s capabilities with respect to MuleSoft. PwC did not complete the work with IATA referenced in the CONNECT session.

Follow us