If you're considering a new practice management system, you may have come across the term "open API." But what exactly does that mean, and what are the real-world benefits of an open API for your practice?
In this article, we'll answer those questions and explain why an open API is an important feature to look for in a practice management system. Plus, we'll provide a few questions to ask potential software providers to make sure they can meet your needs.
What is an open API?
An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of rules and protocols that allow software programs to communicate with each other. In the context of practice management systems, an open API allows third-party developers to create integrations that work with the software.
It's important to note that not all APIs are created equal. Some software providers may use the term "open API" but put limits on what developers can do with it. For example, they may only allow certain features to be integrated or charge extra for access to the API.
A true open API, on the other hand, gives developers complete freedom to create integrations that meet the unique needs of veterinary practices. This can deliver significant benefits, which we'll discuss in the next section.
What are the key benefits of an open API?
There are several key benefits of using a practice management system with an open API, including:
More freedom and flexibility
When you use a system with an open API, you're not limited to the integrations that the software provider offers. You can choose from a wide range of third-party integrations that work with your practice management system. This gives you more freedom and flexibility to choose the tools that are right for your practice.
For example, let's say you're looking for a client communication solution. With an open API, you can choose from a variety of options from different vendors. After considering your options, you can select the solution that best meets your needs. You're not limited to the client communication tools offered by your system provider.
Fewer systems to manage
If your practice management system has an open API, you can use integrations to streamline your workflow. For example, you can use an integration to send appointment reminders directly from your practice management system. You won't have to log into a separate system, saving you time and making it easier to stay organized.
Less duplicate work
An open API can also help you avoid duplicate work such as re-entering patient information in multiple systems. With an open API, you can use integrations to automatically share data between your practice management system and other software programs you use. This eliminates the need to manually enter data in multiple systems, which can save you time and reduce errors.
5 important questions to ask potential software providers
When you're considering practice management software, be sure to ask potential providers about their API. In this section, we'll look at five important questions you can ask to make sure the software will meet your needs.
1. Does your software have an open API?
This may seem like a simple question, but it's important to ask. Some software providers may use the term "open API" but put limits on what developers can do with it. As we mentioned earlier, they may only allow certain features to be integrated or charge extra for access to the API.
2. What tools can be integrated using the open API?
Think about the integrations you'd like to use with the practice management system. Then, ask potential providers if those integrations are possible using their open API. It's important to be specific to ensure that the provider can meet your needs.
3. Does implementation include configuration of these tools?
To make the most of an open API, you'll need to configure the integrations you use. Be sure to ask potential providers if configuration is included in their implementation process. This will help you get started using the open API as quickly and easily as possible.
4. Do you offer support to leverage the open API?
Ongoing support is important when you're using an open API, especially since your needs may change over time. Be sure to ask potential providers if they offer support for using the open API. This will help you ensure that you can always take advantage of the latest integrations and features.
5. Are there any limits or additional charges?
As we touched on earlier, some software providers limit what developers can do with their open API or charge extra for access. Be sure to ask about any limits or additional charges before you commit to a practice management system. This will help you avoid any surprises down the road.
By asking these questions, you can be sure that you're getting a practice management system with an open API that meets your needs. This will help you take full advantage of the benefits of an open API and streamline your workflow.
Will I need to hire a developer?
If you have a very specific vision for your practice management system, you may need to hire a developer to build it. This is typically only necessary if you want to highly customize the system or build something completely new.
MoVET is a great example of a practice that hired a developer to customize their practice management system. Based in Denver, Colorado, MoVET provides mobile and in-clinic services focused on preventative care.
Provet Cloud's open API allowed MoVET's owner, Dr. Lexi Abramson, to connect the practice management system with other software programs she was using. The end result was integration with a custom-built pet parent app, MoVET-branded online scheduling platform, and Stripe Payments.
Because Provet Cloud's open API is so flexible, Dr. Abramson was able to get exactly the system she wanted for her practice.
The bottom line
When investing in a practice management system, it's vital to consider the long-term implications. An open API will give you the freedom to choose the integrations and tools you need to run your practice – now and in the future. This means you won't be locked into a closed or limited ecosystem determined by a single provider.
If you're looking for a practice management system with an open API, we encourage you to check out Provet Cloud. Our platform is designed to be flexible and scalable, so you can easily add the integrations you need as your practice grows.