News Feature | June 10, 2016

FHIR Charges Ahead Into Healthcare

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

FHIR Healthcare

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on FHIR, but not because HL7 hasn’t been busy.

According to Information Management, HL7 CEO Chuck Jaffe, M.D. announced at WEDI’s most recent national conference they are pushing toward a normative version of the standard that will be backward-compatible with existing FHIR trial use standards. Jaffe also indicated that the newest version with be stable enough so that large vendors can work it into their platforms.

FHIR has always held lofty promises for the industry — dramatic changes in how we exchange EMR data, app innovations, and improvements around healthcare workflows and patient engagement. It offers a glimmer of hope for a new world of interoperability, especially when in regard to population health management. One of FHIR’s greatest strengths though, lies in its ability the integrate data for large enterprises — the core of population health. It’s also credited as the basis of plug and play EHR.

The Move Forward

Currently, HL7 is working to refine the draft standard for health information exchange.

Release 2 of the draft was published in September 2015 (FHIR Draft Standard For Trial Use-DSTU) as the result of 18 months of work incorporating the changes submitted from implementation partners. Suggestions were also taken from private sector contributor, the Argonaut Project which contains healthcare powerhouse providers and vendors, including Epic and Cerner.

Argonaut has been working since 2014 to test interoperability of FHIR profiles and overall speed up current development efforts. The first phase of the group’s work was focused on enterprise data and document queries, while Phase Two was dedicated to cross-enterprise authentication security. According to Jaffe, “Phase Two was an important part of the Argonaut Project because it for the first time enabled inter-system interoperability.”

FHIR remains free to use and embed within products and services through royalty-free licenses, as are all other HL7 standards. Jaffe continued, “We can’t make this happen if people refuse to put data in a format that can be consumed, but certainly we can create an environment and ecosystem to support it.”

Going Deeper

For a closer look at the background of FHIR, please read FHIR Could Change How Health Data Is Transferred.