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HL7, HSPC Partner to Initiate Interoperability FHIR Projects

A recent collaboration between HL7 and HSPC will leverage FHIR in joint projects to explore opportunities to advance health IT interoperability.

FHIR

Source: Thinkstock.

By Kate Monica

- Health Level Seven International (HL7) and Healthcare Services Platform Consortium (HSPC) have reached an agreement to pursue the development of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, the organizations announced this week.

The collaborative agreement takes aim at advancing health IT interoperability through the use of the health IT standard and application programming interface (API) for exchanging EHR data.

HL7 is currently developing FHIR, and HSPC is looking to foster the technology’s advancement. The agreement will seek to contribute to the growth of standardized representation of health data, including HL7 Clinical Information Modeling Initiative (CIMI) Work Group models to be incorporated into FHIR profiles.

The duo also hopes to create tools to support standards of development and adoption, demonstrate the value of FHIR in real-world implementations by HSPC member organizations, and initiate joint projects centered on involving clinicians in the validation of clinical data representations and standards to promote coordination of care.

The first joint project will take place at the Clinical Information Interchange Collaborative meeting in June 2017.

 “HL7 has a long history of formally collaborating with healthcare industry groups such as HSPC to advance interoperability through the adoption and implementation of standards,” said HL7 Chief Executive Officer Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD. “We are delighted to work with HSPC to develop detailed FHIR profiles based on our CIMI models. Together we are engaging the clinical specialty communities to develop a common set of FHIR-based solutions to simplify workflows, effectively allowing clinicians to provide better patient care.”

FHIR has the potential to allow for data aggregation from disparate health IT systems. Likewise, the health IT standard and API has received support from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) as a viable means of achieving industry-wide interoperability.

ONC has worked in collaboration with EHR vendors including Allscripts, Cerner Corporation, and Epic Systems to develop consumer applications using the standard’s technical specifications and application programming interfaces.

ONC also hosted two interoperability challenges with cash prizes amounting to $625,000 to encourage the development of FHIR-enabled APIs. Winners of the challenge included Herald Health, with an app designed to manage alerts and information through customizable push notifications tailored to individual patients, and PatientLink Enterprise with MyLinks, a cloud-based application facilitating health data exchange.

“We are pleased to have a Memorandum of Understanding with HL7 that details HSPC's support of the efforts within the HL7 community in the areas of true semantic interoperability, knowledge authoring and portability, and the development of a Services-Oriented Platform model for healthcare,” HSPC CEO Oscar Diaz said in yesterday’s joint statement. “Through HSPC’s membership and its collaborators, HSPC hopes to accelerate evolution and real world deployment of high value use cases such as care coordination, clinical pathways, and care plans, that implement evolving standards supporting clinical workflows. We look forward to a strong collaboration with HL7 and its members.”

FHIR apps are primarily valuable in the healthcare industry for their ability to enable information sharing across health IT platforms. HL7 has stated FHIR standards are for both mobile technology and EHR use, though they are better suited to EHR use — specifically, data exchange between provider-facing and patient-facing technologies on devices such as smart phones and wearables.

"Although we have a lot of support from federal agencies like ONC and the work coming out of the CDC, VA, and NIH supporting the FHIR platform, the key is that FHIR isn't simply a standard," Jaffe told HealthITInteroperability.com last year. "It's an ecosystem. It's an entire platform which relies on the FHIR APIs, the FHIR resources which are at different levels of maturity, the OAuth 2.0 and OpenID for security and authorization, and a tremendous ecosystem of apps that are used inside and without an electronic health record."

The HL7-HSPC collaboration will further promote the role of FHIR in aiding the health data needs of providers and patients, one of the primary objectives of healthcare organizations working to implement value-based care in 2017. 

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