The actual healthfinder.gov site was launched approximately twelve years ago, while the API is a fairly recent development that has occurred in the past year and a half.
Why We Did It
The reason to go with an API rather than an app or another any other format was in large part due to the type of information we were providing to our audience. We wanted to be able to see who and what were the most queried health concerns and provide that information to people in an easily searchable and accessible format.
What We Did
We originally used a JSON theme and based our information in an API format focused around searching for the information via search bar. We made the searches very keyword specific so that users can search the plethora of health issues they may be diagnosed with across our content and use that information in whatever way they please.
How It Worked
So far one of our main users of the API is the careplanners.com site. We also expanded our content to include Spanish language content which has worked well so far to our non-English speaking users. Requiring registration was also a substantive process not only for analytic reasonings (allows us to see what people are searching and go back and improve that section) but also for safety issues if traffic from a source becomes malicious.
What We Learned
Since there are so many possible diagnoses that can occur and so many health problems, having a keyword specific search is important to sustaining the API. We also learned that having the ICD (universal electronic medical form) form is useful to help keep queries more user-specific.
We have a new API in production (it is done just waiting for launch) and we are making an app with the information from the Quick Guide to Health Living section on the site.
Rich Panzer | rpanzer (at) iqsolutions (dot) com