The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the world’s knowledge center for health and medicine, supporting a broad range of electronic information resources that are freely available to the public. Enhancing the use of these resources via web-based and mobile applications has been an important goal, consistent with HHS’s Open Government objectives.  With this in mind, NLM has just announced the launch of a web portal for one-stop access to an exciting array of NLM Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).  These APIs represent a set of tools that amp up the power of NLM resources by enabling other websites and applications to interact directly with them. The practical benefit of these APIs is that they enable developers to build supercool applications that can tap NLM’s vast consumer health information repositories, research databases, and search engines.

APIs are available for many of NLM’s most popular information resources, such as ClinicalTrials.gov, which enables consumers to access information about clinical research studies.  The MedlinePlus API enables applications to access the vast array of MedlinePlus health topic data in XML format.  There are two APIs provided to enable software developers to access the RxNorm database of drug names and vocabularies.  And there’s much, much more – check out the full roster.

As we work to liberate government data via the HHS Open Government Initiative and Data.gov, HHS is enabling new applications of data that have great potential to benefit the public and help improve health.  The NLM API portal is an important step in that direction. Take a look and see what innovative ideas come to mind!  I’d love to hear about your ideas for using these APIs to help advance health in America.

More information about NLM API sources can be found on the NLM website.

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