Rhapsody Health Solutions Team

5 Points to consider when evaluating your API gateway strategy

APIs are a mainstay in the world of information exchange. API usage in healthcare seems to accelerate with every new IT initiative, the adoption of new digital tools, and ongoing efforts to comply with evolving regulations.   

While APIs are easy to use for sharing information, monitoring API traffic to minimize security risks of the digital front door can be quite complex. Most organizations have applied some operational measures in protecting against these vulnerabilities, but in many cases they aren’t enough.  

According to Gartner® “As the architecture and operational technologies continue to mature, security controls try to apply old paradigms to new problems.”1    

These legacy paradigms have suddenly become laborious, expensive, and unsustainable. How do you know if your organization is using the right tools to monitor and support an API strategy?  

In this blog I’ll share five key questions to consider as you evolve your strategy. 

1. How are you securing your API traffic? 

Are you able to keep track of all API traffic and monitor externally available endpoints? Do your legacy tools leave a gap when it comes to user access controls, block listing, and rate limiting?   

Two scenarios where challenges begin to present themselves: 

  • iPaaS (integration platform as a service) platforms that include an API gateway might emerge in other parts of your organization which can help but may create additional process to reach the tools (or people needed) to assist.  When one team manages the IPaaS and another healthcare integration that the IPaaS can’t solve for, there may be diminishing returns.  As an integration team, do you have to request assistance for every API introduced? 
  • When legacy tools or integration engines are used to manage APIs, rapid API growth and external endpoints put a strain on the old process.  (Rapid growth requires looking at the old process to understand if it is sustainable, and external endpoints require an assessment of one’s approach to ensure the necessary security layer is present).  

2. What are your plans to exchange data beyond JSON and XML? 

A traditional API gateway can be surprisingly limited when it comes to supported data-interchange formats, often ignoring the nuances of healthcare. Handling data standards unique to the healthcare industry, including HL7, requires an integration engine.  

3. How are you planning to manage costs for API monitoring?  

Occasionally, healthcare IT leaders invest in large, Swiss Army Knife-style platforms with the intention of solving many current and future problems. These Swiss Army Knives don’t always live up to expectations.  

Does your multi-purpose API gateway create unforeseen costs in solving challenges and still not accomplish all your goals?  (A Swiss Army Knife is great, but we don’t use them often in the kitchen.) 

4. Does your API gateway management approach create additional complexity?  

Quite often an API gateway is handled by a team other than the team that manages integration because it requires a layer of maintenance and configuration that falls outside integration teams. This adds unnecessary complexity to the tech stack when it comes to maintenance and spinning up new integrations and gateways. 

5. Do you want complete visibility into API messages? 

Storing API messages can be useful for auditing if an incident were to occur, but many API gateways don’t offer auditing capability.  

Extend the power of your integration engine with a built-for-healthcare API Gateway 

If API usage in your organization is ramping up to take on more connections, relying on Rhapsody API Gateway can help you regain control of your integration environment. Rhapsody API Gateway helps provide a wholistic, centralized approach to healthcare data exchange by connecting robust API security with the powerful workflow and message modification capabilities of our best in KLAS® integration engines.   

The Rhapsody API Gateway was built to couple with Corepoint and Rhapsody integration engines to handle data exchange designed for healthcare with ease. It extends the investment in your healthcare integration engine without duplicating functionality. The built-for-healthcare gateway secures traffic at the digital front door and is designed to fit within the budgets of cost-conscious healthcare organizations.  

The Rhapsody API Gateway was built for integration teams, adding security plus the ability to weave message modifications into workflows simply. We made it straightforward by coupling it with Corepoint and Rhapsody integration engines and natively integrating to the FHIR server, providing SMART on FHIR support and FHIR handling. 

We understand that integration teams need access to all data passed through the system to solve problems, and with Corepoint and Rhapsody integration engines paired with Rhapsody API Gateway, this is standard functionality.  

Corepoint and Rhapsody integration engines log entire messages together, offering complete visibility into API messages flowing through the gateway, rather than only logging message headers, which is not adequate. 

The Rhapsody API Gateway is a cloud-native application that can be spun up quickly and made available for your team to work with whether you are operating your engine on-prem or in the cloud. We offer flexible pricing so you can get started as soon as possible with a low barrier to entry. 

Moving forward with your API gateway strategy  

API gateways and management platforms have entered the healthcare industry in recent years, and most healthcare organizations are working with a multipurpose API gateway or management platform that was designed for use in other industries. Providers of these multipurpose gateways lack the years of expertise required to solve complex healthcare integrations.   

Multipurpose API gateways are typically complex, expensive, and do not handle non-API messages, such as HL7, which are important to the majority of essential healthcare workflows. Organizations that use these types of gateways are paying for a bulky platform with features that they often do not need. 

By contrast, the Rhapsody API Gateway is built for the healthcare industry. It creates a future-proofed architecture that lowers security risk and creates operational and financial efficiency, backed by decades of healthcare experience to support you on your journey.  

Ready to talk to an API expert? Contact us now.

Need a primer on healthcare APIs first? Try these resources:  

  1. Gartner® Predicts 2022: APIs Demand Improved Security and Management, By Shameen Pillai, Jeremy D’Hoinne, John Santoro, Mark O’Neill, Sham Gill, 6 December 2021 

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