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How APIs bolstered the success of the Saudi healthcare system through the pandemic

In the burgeoning months of 2020, with the world on the brink of a cascading global shutdown, healthcare organizations large and small were facing their greatest technical challenge in modern history . When governments ordered citizens to shelter in place indefinitely, the demand for telehealth services reached levels previously considered unfathomable. 

With such an unforeseen strain on telehealth services, those organizations unable to scale successfully could buckle under the pressure of burned-out clinicians and lengthy patient hold times. And although they didn’t know it then, embracing application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect apps and resources meant that Lean Business Services was ready to meet the COVID-19 pandemic head-on.

In September 2019, Lean — a leading Saudi company providing innovative health solutions — implemented Google Cloud’s Apigee API management platform to expand and expedite healthcare delivery to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s (KSA) 36 million residents. As it turned out, the implementation was perfectly timed to help connect providers and patients at a scale and pace that would soon be urgently needed.

Lean began considering Apigee when it was struggling to manually manage its 100+ APIs, says Saud Alsaeed, integration manager at Lean. Part of the challenge? KSA mandates a rigorous approach to secure APIs that was technically complicated for the company to implement without the support of a costly third party. 

Within three months of setting up Apigee, Lean had its entire API program up and running. By the time the pandemic was declared, barely six months later, demand for digital healthcare services and new COVID-specific services started to multiply rapidly.

In 2021, Lean processed nearly 10 million API transactions and currently manages more than 4,000 APIs through Apigee.

The clear choice

Before selecting Apigee, Lean went through an exhaustive platform review process, comparing and contrasting Apigee with other leading API management solutions. The choice was clear: “Apigee has many features that are missing in others,” Alsaeed says.

Among these features:

Intuitive, user-friendly dashboard

Reusable components (shared flows, flow hook)

Production enhancers for faster development and deployment

Governance tools for strong, compliant API security

API monetization, productization, and packaging helpers

Using Apigee, Lean simplified its API management processes without undue effort or complexity. Apigee helped Lean integrate multiple services using APIs with a number of national KSA apps. It also enabled Lean to build healthcare registries to help track COVID-19 cases, treatments, vaccines, and other metrics. Lean uses Apigee on-premises, for now.

Security matters

It was essential that Lean consider KSA’s extensive cybersecurity and data privacy regulations when choosing an API management solution. Apigee’s comprehensive API security features positively impressed Lean and were key to the platform’s eventual selection.

Automated authentication and authorization management simplifies the access management process, making it easy to identify who has access to what and why. 

Apigee’s secure API connections and gateways help Lean adhere to KSA’s rigorous IT security demands.

And, to help spot vulnerabilities in Lean’s APIs, Apigee offers continuous monitoring and the ability to adapt multiple security standards that keep APIs safe, even during interactions with legacy systems.

A brighter healthcare future 

With Apigee, Lean has experienced remarkable growth, expanding its ability to serve KSA citizens during a daunting health crisis and beyond. 

Lean now serves more people and facilities, delivering exam and test results to patients and caregivers in hours instead of days, tracking medication availability, and providing useful information. And, with telehealth, Lean enables top-quality medical care for KSA residents no matter where they live.

Thanks to Apigee, Alsaeed says, developers have been able to turn their attention away from managing APIs and focus on creating new ones. Personnel and leadership, similarly freed, can spend time dreaming up innovative new features and business models.

Room to really grow without limits

Lean sees a future filled with API-driven possibilities as it prepares to open its API Marketplace using Apigee. This will allow the company to sell API access to private enterprises seeking secure, fast transfers of healthcare information and transactions — such as an API to connect employers to healthcare providers for fast, reliable digital sick-leave authentication.

Using Apigee, Lean will be able to accomplish this goal without compromising on security or speed. In fact, the platform’s ability to securely scale with monetization in mind was another reason for the organization’s choice. 

Timing is everything. What began as an effort to better manage its APIs turned out to be a prescient investment in KSA citizens’ health during a global pandemic. Now, with thousands of APIs practically managing themselves on Apigee’s platform, Lean Business Services is leaning into a future no longer constrained by physical — or digital — walls. 

Powering its growth: a vast array of APIs, unleashed creativity, and Google Apigee.

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