The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the final Stage 3 meaningful use rule is fully embracing application programming interfaces (APIs) for electronic health records to enable patients to view, download and transmit their health information, potentially replacing patient portals.

While the “current trend to use a patient portal to meet the view, download and transmit functions” is “prevalent and acceptable,” the final Stage 3 rule incorporates API functionality into an objective for patient electronic access, CMS notes in the rule. “The Stage 3 objective for Patient Electronic Access is not a ‘patient portal’ versus ‘API’ requirement or a requirement to support two patient portals,” according to the rule. “Instead, this proposed objective is supporting four basic actions that a patient should be able to take: view their health information; download their health information; transmit their health information to a third party; and access their health information through an API.”

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