Frequently Asked Questions

API stands for application programming interface. It is a set of programming instructions and standards that enable software components to communicate with each other.

An open API is a data system that possesses an interface that lets third-party software interact with a company's data and enables those third-parties to remix that data to potentially build useful new tools on top of or increase its functionality or augment content.

APIs also provide the ability to extend a company's reach by providing data that third-party developers can use to develop their own software and applications. Making data available via API may lead to the development of new technologies or unique uses of the data that a company has or may collect in the future.

One example is Foursquare. The company is becoming the platform that developers use for all kinds of apps to allow users to find places nearby or tell their friends where they are. According to the company, more than 40,000 developers use its API, including Instagram (owned by Facebook), Vine (owned by Twitter), Evernote, Garmin, and Uber.

APIs are very common in technology and consumer web.

Providing APIs allows companies to focus on where they deliver the greatest value to an ecosystem of users – be they developers, manufacturers or end users.

For example, Netflix provides an API that allows device manufacturers, like Roku, to stream Netflix content to Roku customers. Foursquare also has an API that provides location-based app developers access to Foursquare location data. Rather than create redundant, and perhaps inferior data sets, the above APIs allow each company to share data others use to create new experiences that delight customers. APIs increase the likelihood of a seamless convergence of experiences regardless of device and location and context.

Interchange by Kaiser Permanente is our open API program. This API securely enables internal and external developers to plug into and use approved public Kaiser Permanente data to improve health care experiences in ways that have never been possible and have yet to be imagined. The availability of the API program has the potential to transform health care interactions, drive new models of consumer engagement, enable safe sharing of Kaiser Permanente digital assets and promote the brand promise of total health as a destination.

Interchange by Kaiser Permanente is a catalyst for improving the cost, speed and quality of care delivery. By providing app developers with an easy and secure connection to approved data, Kaiser Permanente will shorten the time to develop apps and increase the number of apps that can be created by internal and external developers. The customized consumption of existing data is key in providing Kaiser Permanente members and non-members alike with more chances to actively create and manage their own health care experiences.

APIs provide access to commonly used resources in order to shorten the development time of mobile and web-based applications. Over the years, Kaiser Permanente has amassed large sets of data. Historically, this information has remained inside the enterprise and only reflects one aspect of the care delivery experience. By providing APIs, Kaiser Permanente will welcome a more open and collaborative method of delivering digital health.

A real-world example relates to the increasing adoption of consumer grade sensors, most commonly in the form of activity and vital sign monitors. On a small scale, the data generated by sensors help individuals track activities with the intention of improving health and wellness. On a large scale, data from many individuals may help Kaiser Permanente understand the health impact of behaviors and actions of whole communities.

Because the majority of health care occurs between visits and outside of the doctor's office, it is imperative that Kaiser Permanente provide members and potential members with information they need to make healthy life decisions. This could be information about managing a chronic condition, the location of a healthy restaurant, or the nearest facility that offers a Farmers' Market.

APIs will provide access to these data, and others, to tell a more complete story of everyday life, and allow for a more empathetic, personalized health care experience. Much like online and mobile banking provides an almost real-time insight into an individual's finances, Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will provide real-time insight into an individual's health, with support to make the right choices.

Only Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will provide access to data that is created and shared by an integrated health care provider.

Our advantage has always been the ability to provide high-quality care enhanced by a complete medical record.

Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will open a whole new set of digital possibilities to connect our members to their health care and health information, resulting in improved outcomes and stronger relationships.

The first data set of information available is a Location API, which includes Kaiser Permanente facility and location information for 37 hospitals and more than 600 medical office buildings, pharmacies, emergency rooms, filtered by hours of operation and specialty.

Developers interested in creating apps that improve member experience though the use of multiple data sets will be the early adopters of Interchange by Kaiser Permanente. These developers may be Kaiser Permanente employees or contractors creating an app on behalf of Kaiser Permanente. They may also be independent developers creating an app to improve health and wellness for themselves or their community.

Consumers will benefit from an increased selection of health and wellness apps that will provide continuous engagement with the Kaiser Permanente system. This continuous engagement, through digital health technologies, will improve a member's relationship with Kaiser Permanente through data-driven insight and improved personalization and preferences.

For example, imagine being able to download a mobile app so customized that it shows you nearby restaurants that cater to your healthy lifestyle, 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. Interchange by Kaiser Permanente is the beginning of that possibility.

Non-members may also benefit from apps that access Interchange by Kaiser Permanente. Some data created by Kaiser Permanente will be made available as a public resource for anyone who wishes to access research and information created by the leader in integrated care delivery. One example may allow data from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the Kaiser Family Foundation to be combined to help members and non-members to better understand a general question regarding health and wellness or provide detailed information about recent research into chronic or acute health conditions.

We imagine that the first users of Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will be internal developers creating apps for Kaiser Permanente members. As Interchange by Kaiser Permanente increases available data sets, external developers will be able to create apps that appeal to members and non-members. Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will allow everyone to experience some form of Kaiser Permanente care at home and on the go.

Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will enable Kaiser Permanente to deliver on the promise of making lives better by expanding the boundaries of total health into care anywhere – beyond hospitals and clinics into everyday life, at home and on the go.

The experience of Interchange by Kaiser Permanente occurs in two places – the creation of an app and the use of an app.

App developers will benefit from Interchange by Kaiser Permanente by accessing data sets via API keys through Developers using Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will decrease the time it takes to develop their data driven health and wellness apps.

App users will find that apps created using Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will deliver a more personal experience than other health and wellness apps.

As the quality and reach of our data sets grow, users will have increasing access to care anywhere in the form of new apps that address their unique health care goals and challenges.

We imagine that all apps in the Kaiser Permanente mobile and web portfolio will access some data from Interchange by Kaiser Permanente.

Interchange by Kaiser Permanente powered apps will be open to Kaiser Permanente members and non-members depending on the nature of the app and the data used to create it.

Our hope is that Interchange by Kaiser Permanente will allow a more personalized experience in every interaction – mobile, web, home, clinic, phone and hospital.

Currently Interchange by Kaiser Permanente is not shared with other health care providers.

We are partnering with companies that manufacture devices to collect data.

We are also partnering with companies that help to aggregate and allow access to large data sources.

The ultimate goal is to improve the health of our members and our communities. By tapping into the next phase of digital health, we will expand on our ability to provide personalized, high-quality, member-centered care beyond the care setting – at home and on the go – in collaboration with physicians.

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. 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.

Interchange by Kaiser Permanente stores and shares data so that apps can bring it to life and make it useful.

These apps may measure a number of health and wellness-related data – calories or nearby healthy restaurants or Kaiser Permanente Farmers' Market.

The apps may also provide a more enjoyable way to understand health data for care providers and members.

Imagine a personal "check your engine" light for your body that is managed and monitored by both a care provider and a member to collaborate on reaching a health goal.

Keeping patient information private and secure is a top priority at Kaiser Permanente.

As such, personal health information will not be made available externally via API technology.

The goal is to make available information that is already in the public domain, but in a more efficient way that makes app development easier, and thereby benefits consumers in the form of a broader variety of apps.

We are not currently collecting data for use by external developers. The first data set available includes only Kaiser Permanente locations. Our internal team is collecting individually generated activity data through the use of consumer grade activity and vital sign monitors.

When the capability to collect individually generated is available, we will partner with select device manufacturers to allow users of their devices the option to safely and securely share their data with us.

Kaiser Permanente has an established process to certify mobile applications. This process verifies that apps representing Kaiser Permanente comply with brand, security, and design standards.

The length of the process depends on the complexity of an app, but our goal is to create a quick certification process for apps created by developers using Interchange by Kaiser Permanente APIs.

Once your app has been certified we will contact you to determine the best way to promote your app and your work with Interchange APIs.

Apps built on Interchange by Kaiser Permanente are required to indicate that connection. The Interchange by Kaiser Permanente icon is available through the Interchange Sandbox (registration is required).

Other images, such as photographs, are available through the Kaiser Permanente Brand Center (registration is required).

Please review the Kaiser Permanente brand guidelines on the Kaiser Permanente Brand Center (registration required).

These guidelines include the correct usage of Kaiser Permanente approved colors, icons and images.