Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce re-up on interoperability promise
Some of the biggest heavy-hitters in consumer technology – all of whom have developed a major and potentially disruptive presence in healthcare in recent years – have joined to reaffirm the commitment to interoperability they made a year ago at the White House.
WHY IT MATTERS
Officials from Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce appeared at the second CMS Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference in Washington on Tuesday – and re-upped on their promise to continue using and innovating HL7's FHIR protocol for data exchange with each other, and with other health IT vendors across the care continuum.
The companies noted that, with sponsored connect-athons, community events and developer conferences, they're helping spur innovation for cloud, standards-based interoperability and the larger FHIR ecosystem.
"We have seen the early promise of standards-based APIs from market-leading health IT systems, and are excited about a future where such capabilities are universal," the companies said. "Together, we operate some of the largest technical infrastructure across the globe serving many healthcare and non-healthcare systems alike."
They also said that once the proposed interoperability rules from CMS and ONC go into effect, "we commit to offering technical guidance based on our work including solution architecture diagrams, system narratives and reference implementations to accelerate deployments for all industry stakeholders.
"We will work diligently to ensure these blueprints provide a clear and robust path to achieving the spirit of an API-first strategy for healthcare interoperability," they added. "As a technology community, we believe that a forward-thinking API strategy as outlined in the proposed rules will advance the ability for all organizations to build and deploy novel applications to the benefit of patients, care providers, and administrators alike."
THE LARGER TREND
When these companies first convened in 2018 to pledge to remove interoperability barriers, their pledge was described as a "commitment to eliminate the friction that exists in the healthcare systems today," based on "cloud computing and cloud architecture moving toward open standards through FHIR and the Argonaut project."
In the year since, "we’ve been excited to use and contribute to many FHIR-focused, multi-language tools that work to solve real-world implementation challenges," the companies said on Tuesday. "We are especially proud to highlight a set of open-source tools including: Google’s FHIR protocol buffers and Apigee Health APIx, Microsoft’s FHIR Server for Azure, Cerner's FHIR integration for Apache Spark, a serverless reference architecture for FHIR APIs on AWS, Salesforce/Mulesoft's Catalyst Accelerator for Healthcare templates, and IBM’s Apache Spark service."
ON THE RECORD
"In collaboration with customers and partners such as Change Healthcare, Cloudticity, Cerner, and Black Pear Software, AWS enables the interoperability of healthcare data by offering secure, scalable solutions to support a patient-centric approach," said Dr. Taha A. Kass-Hout, director of healthcare and chief medical officer at AWS Public Sector. (Amazon and Cerner have embarked on a new collaboration where AWS will be the health IT vendor's preferred cloud vendor, the companies announced on Tuesday.)
“This cross-industry effort is tremendously important for the future of healthcare and technology,” added Peter Lee, corporate vice president at Microsoft Healthcare. “Microsoft is heavily engaged and actively contributing through open source and open standards such as HL7 FHIR, and by building health data interoperability into the core of our cloud services. Our work is focused on bringing developers together to collaborate and more easily build data-rich health solutions that move the industry forward.”
"As new developments in data management, such as artificial and machine learning proliferate, the ability to leverage extensive datasets could be the difference in solving some of the world’s most pressing medical mysteries and speeding time to cure," said Steve Rosenberg, vice president and general manager for Oracle Health Sciences. "No one organization can do this alone."