p-analytics type="gtag" data-credentials="include"> Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) healthcare standardss
Fast Healthcare  Interoperability  Resources (FHIR)  healthcare standards

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) healthcare standards

If your company is in healthcare, you will often come by the term FHIR as mandatory compliance in the U.S. What is FHIR? Why should you know about its implementation? Should you learn to overcome the challenges in execution and reap the benefits?

Let us read on to learn more and how FHIR benefits the healthcare industry.

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a standard for healthcare data exchange, published by the Health Level Seven International (HL7). HL7 is the healthcare standards organization of the United States, founded in 1987 for electronic health information sharing. FHIR adds to the existing HL7 standards: HL7 version 2 (HL7v2) and HL7 version 3 (HL7v3), while combining Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) within the web and cloud environments. The CDA is the standard used for encoding clinical documents that contain patient information.

The mainstay of FHIR is the interoperability standard specified for the exchange of all digital healthcare information, without compromising on the information integrity and authenticity.

With the rapid digitization of the healthcare industry, the FHIR emerges as the ultimate go-to standard that safeguards personal health information (PHI) while ensuring ready access to patient data. It covers all electronic health records (EHRs), digital health applications, and the exchange of healthcare data, for health data to be readily “available, discoverable, and understandable.”

What is FHIR?

FHIR is the universal standard for processing healthcare data to simplify implementation while adhering to security concerns. The FHIR uses existing logical and theoretical models for an easy to implement, robust mechanism for data exchange between healthcare stakeholders and applications.

How does the FHIR work?

The FHIR works on REST web services and enables the execution of basic HTTP operations. It is designed only for the Internet and built on the underlying framework or set of “resources” that are easily interpreted or exchanged on any system and adopted or modified to suit any use case.

Resources refer to:

  • A universal description and method of depiction;
  • A common set of metadata;
  • A human-readable part; and
  • Any of the following structures: XML, JSON, HTTP, Atom, OAuth

Resources are the ultimate mainstay of data exchanges and constitute the following:

What does the FHIR solve?

The interoperability and extensible feature of the FHIR between legacy healthcare systems is its most valuable feature. It allows flexibility in its implementation, to be deployed as a single Standard or together with other Standards. Thus, a variety of EHRs, applications, and cloud systems can apply FHIR. Healthcare providers, insurance companies, stakeholders and individuals can exchange critical healthcare information across devices. Third-party app development for medical applications can also be supported and easily integrated into existing systems.

The resources enable structured problem-solving in clinical and administrative environments by integrating within the framework.

Data management can also be customized using the same support.

Benefits of implementing FHIR

With FHIR you now have an alternate method to the earlier document-based technique. So if you are a healthcare vendor, you can leverage discrete data elements as services using the FHIR. For instance, it helps to retrieve or manipulate the elements of healthcare that are central to operations and data exchange, using their dedicated resource URLs. The capability to query source-of-truth systems in real-time enhances the seamless data interoperability between stakeholders.

Is it any wonder why healthcare businesses value FHIR for managing their key elements like patients, admissions, diagnostic reports and medications?

How does it work?

The process by which the FHIR has been designed values consensus, which otherwise was time-consuming. It allows identification and solving of any errors or omissions in the resources before publication. Unlike the HL7v2 and HL7v3, in FHIR, the resources have been maintained separately. Moreover, the resources are versioned with a “maturity level” assigned to each resource, to indicate the score of dependability.

As each resource is assigned a unique identifier, the right information can be accessed or shared from any application or device.

The FHIR standard lays the foundations for a seamless and compliant way of sharing the data vide HTTP. The security and workflow guidelines are provided within the framework while ensuring that the underlying structure of HL7 remains unchanged. So healthcare providers and insurance companies can share patient information with ease, even when using different software systems.

The FHIR standard thus provides a simple mechanism to exchange data between different formats and applications using existing models and a base set of resources to meet diverse and common scenarios.

How essential is FHIR?

By creating standard URLs for the exchange of health information, the FHIR framework removes the cumbersome process of exchanging individual documents or data between different systems. It is used and implemented as a standalone data exchange standard or in link with the existing ones.

At the same time, it ensures consistency in data exchange by standardizing the framework.

Here are some key benefits of implementing FHIR within your system that should convince you to deploy FHIR:

  • Easy and seamless implementation.
  • Access to the required set of data from any device or application.
  • Consistency in data exchange between disparate platforms.
  • Speedy and reliable access to patient information.
  • A fast and efficient alternative to all document related strategies.
  • Compliance with healthcare data-centric regulations.
  • Fosters a developer-friendly ecosystem for user-friendly applications as well as intuitive web functionalities.
  • Standardizes data management for clinical support, insurance claims processing, public health data assimilation and other health data processing.
  • Removes the cumbersome process of transferring documents and images one by one, as it depicts data elements as strategies.
  • Offers an in-built mechanism of tracing workflows to HL7 RIM (Reference Information Model) for implementation of best practices and to prevent deviations.

The benefits of implementing the FHIR have attracted many big healthcare administrators, health informatics players and service providers: Common Well Health Alliance, CoxHealth, Duke Medicine, Geisinger Health, Healthcare Corporation of America, Ochsner Health System, Partners Healthcare, and many more.

How essential is FHIR?

Do you know how the FHIR came into existence? Who is the architect of the revolutionary FHIR standard?

It is none other than Graham Grieve, an open standards developer in clinical research. In 2011, Graham Grieve declared that the then HL7v3 standard had failed in its deployment because of its complexity. No healthcare company wanted to implement it. So Grieve worked with his team to shape a new standard of health data exchange called ‘Resources for Healthcare’ which later became ‘Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources’ or FHIR. It was in March 2012 that the standard was made freely available.

As conceived, the FHIR eliminates the difficulties faced in the interpretation and implementation of HL7 standards, which limited a seamless data exchange and often required extra translation layers.

In January 2019, HL7 published the fourth release of the FHIR standard.

The Challenges of implementing FHIR

Despite the FHIR 4 release, there remain several challenges in the interoperability issues that are inhibiting wider adoption.

What are these barriers of implementation that seem to have slowed down the deployment?

Interoperability Issues

For instance, when various versions of the FHIR execute in different systems, the two systems may not always be interoperable. Also, in cases where the EHR vendor does not deploy all existing FHIR APIs, this gives rise to discrepancies within the healthcare IT.

Costs

For instance, when various versions of the FHIR execute in different systems, the two systems may not always be interoperable. Also, in cases where the EHR vendor does not deploy all existing FHIR APIs, this gives rise to discrepancies within the healthcare IT.

Absence of ownership or case studies

FHIR is dependent on a user community for framing the FHIR guidelines, which can sometimes be an inhibiting factor as case studies that address broader healthcare challenges are often missing. Any mention of best practices is also little known to key healthcare providers, which may dilute the enthusiasm in deployment.

Technical challenges

EHR record sharing, data integration between systems of different bandwidths, and technical interoperability between clinical and claims data are some challenges in the implementation of the FHIR.

Security concerns

Security of access control and the data in transit can be compromised if the guidance for implementation and internal security structure is not complied with strictly, the security of access control and the data in transit can be compromised. Moreover, the security structure should match the workflow and business requirements if you want the standards to operate seamlessly.

Why is FHIR important for the healthcare industry?

Exchange of healthcare information is unavoidable with the omnipresence of health IT and a 24/7 connected ecosystem. Access to health data is critical for patients, healthcare providers, insurers and other stakeholders. Health departments of government benefit from increased adoption of FHIR standards. With FHIR, direct exchange and messaging between companies are secure and consistent. Health data is transferred seamlessly and quickly even in textual format, without security risks. Healthcare providers and vendors can gain insight into the health data for data-driven decision making and public welfare. which use the data to shape public policy.

CONCLUSION

FHIR is ready for the exchange of medical record information, with the API available for EHR systems for patient access to data. An example is the Apple Health Record. Customized applications are yet to find momentum. For instance, where a gastroenterologist wants specific information on an image.

An estimated 85% of hospitals have already deployed FHIR. As a healthcare standard, the FHIR is evolving iteratively with the support of a large developer community. In this scenario, Absolve Data stands at the forefront of AI-driven FHIR standards that have the potential of unlimited use in the coming days and years.

The opportunity of AI technologies must be available to every stakeholder. Large organizations like Microsoft and IBM are at the forefront of FHIR adoption as they have the necessary tools, skills, and resources for AI to succeed. This is precisely what we do: prepare the groundwork for AI, with open cloud platforms integrated with AI dev tools for fostering an ecosystem of innovative applications and collaboration at scale. With Resolve Data, you can look forward to high-impact healthcare data interoperability, backed by our in-house engineering team to leverage cutting-edge AI capabilities.

So if you are a company in the healthcare industry, a hospital, healthcare providers, insurers, or health record system developer, you can depend upon our AI expertise in healthcare data management for faster customization in health data exchange.

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