HL7 posts new FHIR test version tuned for clinical decision support, complex queries, genomics data

Dubbed release candidate number 3, the latest incarnation of the emerging interoperability standard also brings advancements for workflow, eClaims, CCDA profiles and provider directories. 
By Tom Sullivan
02:20 PM
FHIR interoperability standard Corepoint Health genomics population health clinical decision support

The May 2016 iteration of FHIR, as in Fast Healthcare Information Resources, has arrived. Most notable among its new capabilities: support for the Clinical Quality Language for clinical decision support as well as further development of work on genomic data, workflow, eClaims, provider directories and CCDA profiles.

"We’re adopting syntax for querying FHIR resources to do more clinically-oriented things," said Dave Shaver, an HL7 Fellow and the founder and CTO of Corepoint Health. Part of that is FluentPath, which is an extraction language for more effective queries.  

Shaver pointed to the ability to find patients who are eligible for clinical trials as one example. Another would be running queries against a document registry to determine, say, information about pregnant females that came in for a well visit during the past 72 hours.  

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[Also: How FHIR is setting the stage for population health]

HL7 calls the latest iteration release candidate number 3 and developers will be banging away on it May 7-8 at the Montreal Connectathon in the emerging interoperability specification’s march toward what Shaver called a normative version, expected in the spring of 2017, after which all future versions will be backward-compatible – which appears to represent something of a milestone in the standard development that providers and vendors should pay attention to.

Chilmark Research analyst Brian Murphy said that at this point provider interest in FHIR is low and the number of applications relatively small from a clinical perspective.

"Major vendors are going to have to run with this and begin building applications that use the standard if ordinary providers are ever going to make use of it," Murphy said. "Until then, it will only be of interest to large healthcare organizations that can afford functional development teams."

Release candidate number 3 brings FHIR closer to that reality and Shaver explained that the testing it undergoes at the Montreal Connecathon will ultimately inform the next version which will potentially see the light of day in September. 

[Also: Innovation Pulse: Hardest part for FHIR lies ahead]

While many providers are asking when FHIR will be done and when their vendors will implement it, Shaver added, those are not necessarily the top priorities at this point in the process.

The real questions providers should be asking instead are whether their software vendors are participating in HL7, whether they’re trialing FHIR and gearing up to support it.

"We’re marching on this process to create a standard, a very challenging problem," said Shaver. "You get feedback and need to change it based on that feedback. Just like an artist we work hard to create the standard but in the end you don’t whether the audience will receive it well or not."

Twitter: @SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com

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