FHIR poised for interoperability prominence
It appears that FHIR is about to blaze through healthcare.
The standard – christened as Fast Health Interoperability Resources and pronounced “fire” – facilitates interoperability by providing an implementation framework combining Web technologies with Health Level 7’s existing offerings.
"The whole purpose of FHIR is to make it simple to exchange health information accurately, particularly for people who aren't technical," explained David Hay, product strategist for Orion Health. "FHIR grew out of the fact that existing standards such as CDA are not that straightforward to use. CDA is a document paradigm, but it doesn't really talk about how you can actually be exchanging documents."
FHIR solutions are built from a set of modular components called “resources” which can be assembled into working systems to solve real world clinical and administrative problems at a fraction of the time and cost of existing systems.
“A major force in the industry today is the drive for interoperability,” Jaffe said. “The government has raised this to the highest priority, patients are demanding it, and physicians are longing for it.”
To help meet the need for quick development, FHIR includes multiple implementation libraries and offers many examples to kick-start development. What’s more, the standard is built around ontologies and rigorous formal mappings.
Among the vendors already hopping on board with FHIR, Orion Health will be at HIMSS15 demonstrating its Rhapsody integration engine and its Open Platform, a big-data solution for population health management.
"There's now a realization that we need to be exposing the information we collect by means of the FHIR interface,” Orion's Hay said. “I think you are going to see – if not at HIMSS15, very shortly after that — FHIR interfaces supporting an ecosystem in healthcare.”
One of the ways FHIR is being put to use inside Rhapsody is to enable an end user to receive a laboratory message and convert it into meaningful form through its FHIR equivalent. The opposite is also true: A FHIR message can be converted to a standard laboratory message.
"What I hope will happen is that this sort of functionality will be picked up by our customers,” Hay continued. “And then, based on their experiences and requirements, we'll add further functionality into the product in response. Our intent is to make Rhapsody easier to administer and support, particularly in larger installations."
HL7-run connectathons, which take place at least once per quarter, are driving current developments in FHIR, which is scheduled to reach level 2 of a Draft Standard for Trial Use version sometime around May.
Attendees can find HL7 at booth 3836 in the South Hall; Orion Health’s booth number is 4435, also in the South Hall.