Interoperability: Now Geisinger has an app for that

Geisinger taps HL7 standard to develop
By Bernie Monegain
09:43 AM
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Glenn Steele

Geisinger Health System and xG Health Solutions, a company founded by Geisinger, have connected a software app to an electronic health record by employing a new draft standard developed by international standards organization Health Level Seven.

Geisinger developed a rheumatology app to interact with its Epic EHR. Now, by using the new HL7 draft standards, Geisinger and xG Health Solutions have successfully exchanged clinical data in real-time within the Cerner EHR framework.

Geisinger and xG Health Solutions anticipate enabling apps to work in a similar fashion with all EHRs.

This new "app approach" to augmenting EHR functionality has the potential to transform the delivery of healthcare by giving providers access to analyses of information that resides outside and/or inside the EHR, as well as decision support, regardless of the underlying EHR platform, Geisinger officials say in announcing the feat.

[See also: DeSalvo strikes interoperability chord.]

Geisinger expects to make apps like these available to other healthcare systems through xG Health Solutions, founded by Geisinger in 2013 to commercialize Geisinger innovations.

Geisinger and xG Health Solutions used an approach developed with grant support from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator's Strategic Healthcare IT Advanced Research Projects, known as SHARP, specifically the open-source Substitutable Medical Apps, Reusable Technologies, or SMART Platform.

This Web-based interoperable container and the corresponding HL-7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR, interface can exchange information in real-time with any SMART-on-FHIR-enabled EHR.

"Over the past 18 years, Geisinger has programmed a broad spectrum of workflow facilitation and clinical decision support into our electronic health record and into software applications that operate outside of our EHR, but communicate with it," said Geisinger President and Chief Executive Officer Glenn Steele Jr., MD, in a press statement. "Until now, Geisinger EHR-related innovations that improve quality, increase efficiency and reduce the cost of care have not been available to other healthcare delivery systems. This pilot program shows there is now a way to do that."

The app-based approach developed by Geisinger extracts data from an EHR and presents information in user-friendly views to clinicians together with clinical decision support.

Geisinger officials say this method will enable innovative types of workflow facilitation and clinical decision support to operate on top of any SMArt-on-FHIR-enabled EHR to improve the quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of healthcare.

HL-7 CEO Charles Jaffe, MD, is bullish on FHIR, telling Healthcare IT News in a recent interview that FHIR is a "game-changer," adding, "FHIR represents a departure from the notion of messaging and document-centric ideas."

[See also: Interoperability's 'game-changer'.]

As Jaffe sees it, "FHIR is such a significant advance in accessing data, delivering data and the enormous, enormous flexibility inherent in the model. FHIR doesn't specify the content; FHIR specifies what we mean by the content."