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Carequality Promoting Use of FHIR for Health Data Exchange

Carequality is adding support for FHIR-based health data exchange to its trusted exchange framework for interoperability.

Carequality is taking steps to support FHIR-based health data exchange.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Carequality is looking to add support for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards to its trusted exchange framework as part of an effort to further streamline interoperability and standards use.

The nationwide framework organization is currently seeking stakeholder input from both Carequality members and non-members to inform the development of a new FHIR Implementation Guide.

FHIR is an internet-based data standard developed and maintained by Health Level 7 International (HL7). The data standard is designed to connect different discrete data elements, or resources. Resources are assigned standardized, shareable identifiers that function like the URL of a webpage. Resources can include metadata, text, or discrete data elements.

Carequality has invited stakeholders to participate in FHIR Implementation Guide Technical and Policy workgroups, which will center on specifications and security and “rules of the road,” respectively.

“Carequality has demonstrated the power of a nationwide governance framework in connecting health IT networks and services for clinical document exchange,” said Carequality Executive Director Dave Cassel. 

“We believe that the FHIR exchange community will ultimately encounter some similar challenges to those that Carequality has helped to address with document exchange, and likely some new ones as well.” Cassel continued. “We’re eager to engage with stakeholders to map out the details of FHIR-based exchange under Carequality’s governance model.”

In a few short years, FHIR has become one of the most popular data standards in the industry. Many healthcare leaders regard FHIR as a way to enable structural and semantic interoperability.  According to ONC data published in October, nearly a third of EHR vendors currently use the FHIR standard to meet 2015 Edition Health IT Certification requirements.

Allscripts, athenahealth, CPSI, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, Epic, MEDITECH, and GE are among the major EHR vendors currently offering health IT products that utilize the health data exchange standard.

Through the workgroups, Carequality intends to identify broad, nationwide FHIR implementation specifications that the Carequality Interoperability Framework could potentially help to govern and deploy.  

The policy and technical workgroups will work in tandem with other organizations involved with the development of FHIR standards. Carequality clarified that the workgroups will not duplicate work that is already underway related to FHIR specifications and use case workflows.

“The overarching goal of all healthcare interoperability project is to improve outcomes, lower costs, and broadly improve overall population health,” said Cassel.

The technical and policy workgroups will primarily focus on the operational and policy elements necessary to support the use of FHIR across the healthcare system.

“We believe that adoption of FHIR in the Carequality Interoperability Framework can advance all of these goals by improving the availability of useable clinical information, expanding the scope of exchange, and significantly lowering the costs of participating in interoperable exchange,” maintained Cassel.

Carequality is also working to enhance health data exchange and interoperability by partnering with CommonWell Health Alliance to launch a CommonWell-Carequality connection.

CommonWell has already met all Carequality framework requirements, and initial providers using Cerner and Greenway Health EHR systems have gone live with the connection.

With some providers now live with the CommonWell-Carequality connection, CommonWell can validate and benchmark the link.

The limited roll-out of bidirectional health data exchange connections is part of a mission to broaden and enhance the reach of both organizations. According to CommonWell Health Alliance Executive Director Jitin Asnaani, the organizations will make the connection generally available to members by the end of the summer.

Carequality and CommonWell members have also participated in a Joint Document Content Workgroup to develop recommendations about deploying encounter summary clinical document architecture (CDA) documents with clinical notes.

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