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What is Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)?

September 11, 2021 - by Mudita Lakhanpal, Webmedy team


Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources is also known as FHIR. It is an Interoperability specification that is formulated to exchange healthcare data and information known as "resources" and an application programming interface (API ) for exchanging health records electronically. The standard was created by the Health level seven International (HL7) healthcare standards organization.

API?s are sets of requirements that govern how applications communicate and interact with one another. An API is an interface that provides developers with programmatic access to a proprietary software application. The FHIR has quickly become one of the most popular protocols for joining disparate systems together and holds great promise for the development of an application-based approach to interoperability and health information exchange.

FHIR aims to simply implement without sacrificing information integrity. It leverages existing logical and theoretical models to provide a consistent, easy to implement, and rigorous mechanism for exchanging data between healthcare applications.

Why is FHIR Important?

At the moment, the majority of health information exchange and data interoperability is based on documents. Whether faxed, emailed, or sent electronically, providers typically have to choose a set of data to transmit and then generate a message that contains only that data. While this approach does help organizations successfully communicate, it can be too limiting for meaningful care coordination, decision-making, or data analytics.

Healthcare IT should always be about the patient. To that end, interoperability is the cornerstone of this patient-first perspective - as an important support mechanism for the timely and effective exchange of information critical for delivering patient care, one of many reasons why FHIR is important.

Benefits of FHIR

  • FHIR means better Data Sharing

    Sharing data with patients lets them take more control of their own health and make better decisions about their own medical care. It empowers patients to take ownership of their care.

  • FHIR means better Data Management

    FHIR helps with the management of all the Data like EHR's, Surveys, Vital records, Wearables, etc. It provides us with a standard common target data format, transforming information into a usable form. This common format ensures data integrity, accuracy, and consistency while clarifying ambiguous meanings and minimizing redundant data.

  • FHIR means better Data Mining

    "Data science" refers to how data is automatically mined for insights. The real-life benefits of FHIR for healthcare meet the promise of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

    • Training AI/machine learning models to diagnose a condition.
    • Training AI/machine learning models to recommend the most effective healthcare procedures or medications that can be used to treat a patient.

Summary

Like every offering or technology comes with its own pros and cons, so does FHIR. The adoption of FHIR has its own challenges. FHIR is supposed to be sharing and highlighting the similar challenges of HL7 integration, particularly if different versions of them are implemented in different systems than those two systems are not interoperable at all. There are other inconsistencies or lacunas as well that occur when EHR vendors don't implement all the existing FHIR APIs and even in the case, they do, then also they don't implement the entire API. These discrepancies undermine the objective and purpose of attaining interoperability.

API solutions and functionality can make the process seamless and efficient, and one of them is 'Integrate' that is cost-effective and practical and make the process user-friendly in the advanced technological landscape. The Integrate functionality utilizes real-time REST APIs and a vast set of universal and unified data models in order to standardize EHR integration and implementation, offering read and write capabilities and functions with any EHR. It even supports the smooth and consistent exchange of the healthcare data and information in between EHR platforms, administrative and clinical-based applications, rendering crucial real-time access to patient health records or data, without compromising or bearing in the security or authenticity of PHI. All thanks to the technology and Integrate function of the universal APIs along with a unified data model that actually made it possible to not even think about different applications being executed in different FHIR versions anymore. It also leads to the benefit of no more worrying about copying and faxing patient records and distributing them across different health systems and departments collaborating on patient health care. Also, there is no need to wait for the lengthy integration time of the projects now as you can instantly start working on the exchange of healthcare data as per the preference and requirement. And needless to say but FHIR assures and is highly efficient in putting down all the essential information into any workflow and that too in real-time situations to use for clinical decision support and further.

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