Colorado HIE bets on FHIR to speed up data exchange

CORHIO will launch its first use case in June, while a second use case centered around connected care management platform will launch at a later date.
By Jessica Davis
02:12 PM

Colorado Regional Health Information Organization plans to implement the FHIR standard to improve data exchange between providers, the group recently announced at Denver’s Prime Health Innovation Summit.

FHIR, created by standards organization HL7, is a standards framework that enables data sharing and communication between apps.

CORHIO began to discuss the potential for leveraging FHIR for its health information exchange about a year ago and has been working with HL7 to internally build the platform for about four or five months, CORHIO CEO Morgan Honea said.

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

The first case use will test in June and the second use case that will center around a connected care management platform will launch at a later date. The organization has already leveraged HL7’s customizable platform since its inception seven years ago.

Different vendors came to CORHIO using FHIR-based protocols, and Honea said the group saw it as “another mechanism to connect the HIE that incorporates more emerging technologies.”

“While FHIR has gotten a lot of media attention, but we haven’t seen it used often in this particular scenario,” said Honea. “We see ourselves forging the path to adopting this as a standard, as more a clinical decision tool, supporting and ancillary services.”

[Also: Argonaut Project building on success with FHIR implementation guide]

“What we’ve come to realize over the last two to three years is that the use case for health information exchange is changing from our original intent, as a point-of-care decision making tool,” he said.

Originally, data exchange was meant to simply move data between electronic health records. But with the influx of patient care management activities, accountable care organizations, third-party business associates that may not use EHRs and an abundance of IT systems, Honea said there needs to be a new transport mechanism.

[Also: HL7 moves FHIR closer to interoperability for precision medicine]

Honea sees FHIR as a way to create “a mechanism for folks to access the relevant data within the HIE in a better, faster and cheaper manner.”

“As an industry we always talk about the cost of healthcare, as unmanageable and out of control,” said Honea. “CORHIO is part of that, and we need to be responsible stewards when it comes to healthcare costs. If we can decrease barriers in terms of cost that is what we’re going to pursue.”

CORHIO is one of the largest HIEs in the U.S., transmitting about 375,000 messages a day. Honea explained that HIEs are all over the map in terms of viability and success. The HIE has built a model based on traditional HL7s and Continuity of Care Documents, but to make data available where it needs to be, CORHIO needs to continually improve.

“Our efforts around FHIR are one way to urge the industry to move forward on new technology,” said Honea.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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