4 Crucial Things To Know About The Role Of FHIR In Interoperability

As health data interoperability became a progressively important consideration for providers, developers and vendors started to pay a great deal more attention to the data standards that can empower consistent on-demand data exchange.

The Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource, also known as FHIR, has quickly emerged as one of the best-known protocols for joining disparate systems and carries big hopes for the future development of the application-based approach to interoperability health information exchange. The time has come to embrace a brand new perspective on the importance of data exchange to patient care.

Still, what is FHIR, and why is it causing so much enthusiasm among some of the industry's most significant health care providers? In the following paragraphs, we will break down the four crucial things you need to know about one of the hottest new standards that hit the healthcare industry and how it can prove to be remarkably transformational for the whole healthcare ecosystem.

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What Is The Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource?

In its essence, the FHIR is a draft data standard established and promoted by Health Level Seven, or HL7 International. It is a non-profit, ANSI-accredited standard-developing organization, offering a full framework and associated standards for integrating, exchanging, sharing, and retrieving electronic health information that supports clinical practice and all health services.

FHIR was set up with healthcare data's perplexity in mind and took an advanced, internet-based approach to join various distinctive elements. According to this great article about HL7's FHIR, the philosophy behind the FHIR is to develop a base set of resources that, either by themselves or when fused, will satisfy the majority of everyday use cases. The system's resources aim to specify the information content and structure for the core information that most implementations share.

FHIR strives to let developers build standardized applications that will allow access to data no matter what Electronic Health Record "operating system" underpins the user's infrastructure. The key to achieve this lies in the resources. An FHIR resource can be each bundle of information that includes text, metadata, or data elements. It can also be grouped into collections that build clinical documents, analogous to the C-CDA, but much more flexible.

Afterward, FHIR's resources are utilized to create documents that make a composition: a full set of precise information that's a healthcare information statement, including clinical observations and services.

FHIR creates an accessible and standardized system for these information collections rather than just passing individual documents back and forth between systems. This way, many different apps can point to the same version of the same data every time.

How FHIR Is Different From Other Attempts At Improving Interoperability

Currently, most of the health information exchange and data interoperability is based on hard copy documents. Whether emailed or shared, health care providers usually have to choose a set of data to transmit and generate a message that contains data only. And while this approach helps organizations communicate, it is too limiting for serious care coordination, decision-making, and medical data analytics.

For instance, the C-CDA is a uniform document that incorporates a big deal of crucial medical information for each patient, but it’s similar to a .pdf file. This data is comparatively static, and it takes effort to withdraw information and make it functional in other formats.

The timely exchange of whole documents is essential in medical care, and document-based logs don’t allow a healthcare provider to delve into the context of the data received. Lab results and lists of allergies can prove invaluable in individual cases, but they don’t tell the whole story of the patient. Consequently, one thing is sure, health information exchange based entirely on C-CDA XML docs doesn’t allow access to crucial information at a data level.

On the other hand, FHIR permits developers to create applications that transcend this document-based environment. Furthermore, these apps can be plugged in into an electronic health record operating system and feed patient information directly into the provider workflow.

While current interoperability efforts are still focused on moving data back and forth and overtaking data reconciliation challenges, FHIR allows having well-coordinated care plans across many systems.

How Are Healthcare Vendors And Providers Using FHIR?

Healthcare vendors and providers are rapidly developing and implementing apps and tools that leverage the promising FHIR data standard. The use of this standard is nearly limitless.

It includes some of the most significant challenges preventing healthcare organizations from enhancing patient engagement, generating sound population health management programs, and diving into sophisticated, knowledgeable clinical judgment support.

With enthusiastic support from the Office of the National Coordinator For Health Information Technology and numerous big commercial providers in the industry, FHIR sees action in many different scenarios.

Some are using the standard to expand population health management capabilities and develop specific apps that break down data silos. Others are leveraging FHIR as the basis for a brand new clinical decision support model that incorporates real-time data access for providers at the point of care.

Private healthcare entities are making FHIR the centerpiece of their efforts to develop an EHR-agnostic marketplace for applications that permit data to flow across diverse systems. The FHIR standards open up thrilling opportunities for developers to build across interoperable EHRs.

Why Should Healthcare Providers And Patients Get Excited About FHIR?

First of all, FHIR can make healthcare more like the other internet-based experiences that customers enjoy in different industries. The standard can also help to make all those monitoring devices and wearable gadgets worthwhile from a clinical perspective.

FHIR is the missing link between the electronic health records and the thousands of Apple watches, Bluetooth scales, FitBits, blood glucose monitors, diet apps, fitness trackers, and other tech solutions that attract the consumer’s attention.

While the pool of patient-generated health data is growing every day, it's practically meaningless to healthcare providers if they can't easily and quickly access the most significant parts of the collected data. FHIR is a gamechanger to this.

Specific medical applications, built on the FHIR platform, will perform accurate analytics on patient-generated health data and provide users with a summary of trends relevant to a particular aspect of chronic disease management or patient wellness.

Additionally, patients who see multiple providers in different health systems no longer have to worry about having various patient portals from organizations that use other EHRs. FHIR allows patients to have one personal record, which integrates data from different formats and systems to deliver an extensive view of all problems, allergies, and medications to improve care coordination.

Regardless of the use, FHIR is undoubtedly sparking a revolution in how developers view the underlying technical infrastructure that supports patient care. Like in other areas of consumer technologies, apps are becoming a standard way of structuring systems, and change the way electronic health records look, feel, and operate.

In the end, the promises of FHIR are many, and the support for this data standard is strong across the healthcare industry. While developers continue their efforts to investigate more innovative ways to address health data interoperability's fundamental problems, providers and patients may not have to wait much longer to get access to a rich new set of functionalities within their health IT systems, thanks to FHIR.