U.S. National Library of Medicine, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, maintains a database of over 8,500 records relating to other organizations and sources of reference material on the topic of health and medicine. This “Directory of Information Resources Online” is aptly named DIRLINE. The DIRLINE API allows you to search this niche data collection from your webpage or app.
How might you use DIRLINE? Think of it as a special purpose yellow pages book. It is the perfect tool for someone that needs to further research a specific condition or health question. This service would integrate well with an application seeking to connect with others who share a rare genetic condition, such as the Nail Patella Syndrome Networking/Support Group, which is returned in the search results for the phrase “bone support group”.
The API is RESTful and returns XML format. It is a three phase API. First the general search query is performed. A “temporary file” of the results is created, and this file name is used as a parameter in the second API call. The second call displays more detailed information about each search result, which allows the user to make a selection of a particularly interesting result item. That item can then be requested and the result will contain location and contact information for the organization or group described in the item.
The National Institutes of Health shows is ability to remain technologically savvy even in its 175th year. The Institutes provide several 11 Medical Reference APIs in our directory.