The ever-growing use of data in organizations is exposing new opportunities built on more reliable information, as seen in the continued progress in HIT (Health Information Technology). In this article on HIT Consultant, Erica Garvin discusses a major issue in HIT, and the impact of FHIRs on population health.
FHIR (pronounced “fire”) stands for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources and seeks to address the interoperability issues affecting the constructive sharing of health data. The protocol is a specification of HL7 that covers how to support an API to allow the exchanging of data among HIT systems.
While APIs like Apple’s HealthKit allow fitness and survey data to be added to EMRs (Electronic Medical Records), true data interoperability demands access to specific clinical data. FHIR APIs provide this by removing the need to exchange entire health documents, dealing instead with ‘resources’ of structured data, such as a medication list or lab results.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of FHIRs is the area of population health management (PHM) that currently suffers from a lack of access to actionable data in workable time frames. This is partly because PHM solutions are used for supporting the decision-making process in delivering the proper service, yet EMRs are still used as the primary point of data entry.
The opportunity lies in getting these two systems to communicate, removing the disconnect between care managers updating care plans on PHM tools and providers still using EMRs. As an example, an FHIR care plan API could allow a PHM tool to push updated care plan data to the EMR without the user having to log into separate systems.
While the prize of true data interoperability must still overcome several challenges, the potential to create a cohesive and comprehensive view of patient medical data should encourage government to challenge developers and entrepreneurs to leverage the opportunities for patient-centric care.