The rise of health IT standards and health APIs is going to dramatically change how patients access their data, according to Kyle Murphy over at HealthITInteroperability.
As evidence, Kyle points to a recent demonstration at the Regenstrief Institute that showed how patient data can be aggregated and merged from disparate data sources according to the new Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. FHIR promises to lead to the introduction of new IT standards and APIs that will help health providers meet their patients’ demands for access to data.
What the demonstration proved is that when you deploy the standard in a sandbox version of a healthcare provider’s software where electronic health records (EHRs) are kept, an end-user could easily compile a patient record from many data sources. The hope is that at some point patients themselves will be able to compile their own patient records from all the various providers they use.
Kyle warns, though, that this could be a long way off. The guys at Regenstrief haven’t yet piloted technology that will deal with problems like the different data vocabularies used among providers. In the meantime, health companies are giving patients access to data through Web portals. The problem is that you have to go to a different Web portal for each provider you use.
But all is not lost. All healthcare providers certified for Medicaid and Medicare will have to provide APIs for patients to access their data by 2018 (see our take on that here), with the federal agency supporting and promoting the use of APIs that will enable patients to view, download and transfer their health data. FHIR is just one of the standards government agencies could support to make patient data sharing via APIs a reality, sooner rather than later.