How Fast Interoperability is Speeding Innovation in Healthcare

Scott Mace, June 6, 2016

Healthcare leaders at Boston Children's Hospital, DukeHealth, and Intermountain Health find that Fast Health Interoperability Resources aids in the flow of discrete data and clinician workflow.

This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Shafiq Rab, patient data, EHR, FHIR, interoperability
Shafiq Rab, MD

An unlikely trio—a children's hospital, an academic medical center, and a regional hospital system just converting from a home-grown enterprise EHR to a commercial one—is blazing a trail that is beginning to allow data to flow in discrete bits to spur innovation and interoperability across all of healthcare.

The three—Boston Children's Hospital, DukeHealth, and Intermountain Healthcare—are among the first in the nation to implement new HL7 technology known as Fast Health Interoperability Resources, or FHIR, not just for new patient data access options, but to enhance clinician workflow and decision support.

On the patient data access front, a fourth player, Hackensack University Medical Center, part of the four-hospital, 1,717-licensed-acute bed Hackensack University Health Network, was one the first implementers of FHIR, with its own patient-facing app interfacing with the Epic EHR, late last year.

"We are requesting and encouraging vendors to adapt to FHIR, or it will become difficult to work with Hackensack," says Shafiq Rab, MD, vice president and chief information officer of Hackensack UMC.

One element of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' EHR incentive program updated in October 2015 is spurring interest and development in FHIR and other application programming interfaces (API). According to CMS, requiring 2015-certified EHR software to support these APIs will "enable the development of new functionalities to build bridges across systems and provide increased data access. This will help patients have unprecedented access to their own health records, empowering individuals to make key health decisions."

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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