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What is FHIR?

FHIR logo

FHIR® is the acronym for “Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources.” Developed by the HL7 organization, FHIR has become widely accepted as the next generation standard for sharing health information across systems and organizations.

HL7 states that, “FHIR is suitable for use in a wide variety of contexts – mobile phone apps, cloud communications, EHR-based data sharing, server communication in large institutional healthcare providers, and much more.”

Why FHIR is Important to You

A web-native technology

Unlike previous health information standards, FHIR is based on the same web technology as the social media, e-commerce, travel, search, and other online services you use every day. This gives FHIR an advantage in real-time access to healthcare data about individuals that is scattered across multiple IT systems.

Success in value-based reimbursement agreements

FHIR is an important standard for the future of healthcare systems trying to survive in a world of value-based reimbursement, coordinated care and population health management. All such initiatives require collaboration supported by shared health records.

Thirty years ago interoperability was about exchanging data between two IT systems. Now it’s about accessing data across many systems as a single concordant view, and presenting it to the mind of clinicians in a way that is easily understood. Once an EHR, health information exchange, or other data source supports FHIR, FHIR apps can pull that data into actionable presentations that drive improved care and outcomes.

Greater versatility

Healthcare data can be represented once in FHIR, and then used without modification in different information sharing paradigms – REST, web services, HL7 messages, or documents. FHIR packages the meaning of the data along with the data itself. So via FHIR, for example, you can take lab readings in from one system as an HL7v2 message, and then send them out in a discharge summary without transformation.

FHIR Support in InterSystems HealthShare

FHIR solutions are built from a set of modular components called “Resources” (such as encounter, patients, observation, medications, and so on). These resources can easily be assembled into working systems that solve real world clinical and administrative problems at a fraction of the price of existing alternatives.

HealthShare includes a FHIR client and server, and can translate between FHIR and other health information interchange standards, such as HL7v2 and HL7v3. HealthShare stores and indexes FHIR resources and makes their data available to other applications via the FHIR REST client, JSON, or XML.

Use cases for FHIR via InterSystems HealthShare include

  • SMART on FHIR – SMART defines a health data layer that builds on the FHIR API and resource definitions
  • Developing FHIR applications
  • Bridging a FHIR client to a system that does not support FHIR, such as one that only can produce CDA, or HL7v2
  • Converting a document repository to discrete FHIR resources
  • Staging multi-standard, multi-source data for retrieval through a single point of connection
  • Delivering discrete data from an EHR to add-on apps
  • FHIR-enabling document centric applications

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