Aneesh Chopra on the future of FHIR: It's starting to come together

The former U.S. CTO says healthcare is entering an upgrade cycle to more modern technology en route to democratizing health data.
By Bill Siwicki
10:19 AM
future of FHIR

FHIR signals what may be the future of healthcare, and certainly what many wish that to be: An IT ecosystem where systems within an organization and between organizations can easily share data in a plug-and-play fashion.

Healthcare as an industry is admittedly not there yet but thanks to the emerging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard, that picture is moving from an abstract vision to a more concrete reality.

“Now we are entering an upgrade cycle where we no longer have to wait years and years for the next piece of health information to move,” said Aneesh Chopra, the former U.S. chief technology officer and current president of CareJourney. “We are now moving to a more modern technology stack that will dramatically increase cycle time to get information into the hands of people who can make the most sense of it.”

[Also: HL7 publishes a new version of its FHIR specification]

That’s important because data transfer in healthcare today is messy. Two different healthcare organizations trying to exchange information typically require a custom configured data transfer. So, for example, there has been nothing quite like HTTP with the Internet, where everyone knows that when you type a certain combination of letters, a specific action will happen.

The FHIR specification is progressing. Vendors are supporting it. Developers can layer in the API to more easily transfer data. So what does the future hold?

Democratized health data.

[Also: FHIR holds big promise for interoperability, but will need to coexist with other standards for the foreseeable future]

“FHIR is a common language to request medications, problem lists, a list of folks in the care team, that which the government has regulated, the common clinical data set,” Chopra said. “This democratizes access so even developers with very limited healthcare experience can more rapidly build what is in the best interest of patients. The FHIR API is really about democratizing access to healthcare – a common language and a universal plug.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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