FHIR: A New Path Towards Healthcare Interoperability

The Digital Framework of tablets depicts the interoperability agenda

The healthcare organizations in today’s marketplace are striving towards finding the right key to interoperability among disparate electronic health record (EHR) systems. What today’s physicians are looking for? They need the capability to easily exchange healthcare data effectively to improve care coordination, which could prompt better patient outcomes and potentially lower costs. But the current strategies used to exchange data have fallen short. 

Health information exchange networks have not spread widely, and a strategy for secure messaging that utilizes Internet conventions has not yet gotten on with a minimum amount of suppliers. Even when healthcare providers do exchange data, it is usually in the form of PDF care summaries. 

Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR), a new standard framework promises to change all of that by creating plug-ins for EHRs without the need for interfaces. FHIR-based APIs, when they’re fully developed, could allow providers to pull discrete data from EHRs other than their own; could enable consumers to use data from their electronic records in mobile health apps or store it in personal health records; and could expand the capabilities of EHRs by enabling providers to select apps that provide features not present in their EHRs. 

However, some EHR vendors are racing to build FHIR-enabled products. Both they and outside developers are starting to create plug-in apps. Also, healthcare providers are getting more excited about the capability of FHIR to increase data liquidity and improve the convenience of EHRs.


FHIR Is Everywhere: For Sharing And Exchanging Data

From top healthcare vendors to federal organizations in the nation, in the country, nearly everyone with a stake in the world of healthcare data seems to have agreed that FHIR’s internet-based approach to sharing and exchanging information offers the most tangible promise for accomplishing the business’ objectives of consistent interoperability and patient-focused, data-driven care.

HL7 FHIR Resources

FHIR uses snippets of data known as “resources” to represent clinical domains within EHRs, such as diagnoses and medications, and other clinical entities. These resources can be built on top of normalized data types and are utilized in a Restful API like those that application designers as of now use over the Internet.

Health Level 7 (HL7), the leading standards development organization in health care, has recognized FHIR as a draft standard and has identified 99 FHIR resources. To specify these resources, HL7’s members should have to make profiles for each of them — along and strenuous procedure.



FHIR alone cannot give developers all the components they need to write apps for EHRs. It can translate clinical data into objects that apps can use, but an app developer also needs to know the restraints on vocabularies and how the data will be coded. To give these missing pieces and a graphical UI, FHIR is being utilized with an open, standard-based stage known as Substitutable Medical Applications and Reusable Technology (SMART).

From the viewpoint of SMART app developers, FHIR is a building block for clinical data. Several SMART on FHIR apps is displayed on SMART’s website. Some of them are already being used in large healthcare organizations that have built their FHIR-enabled servers. 

How FHIR Benefit The Developers?

Traditionally, the incompatibility of different EHRs has made it difficult and expensive for developers to write clinical decision support apps for use with leading systems. FHIR reshapes this landscape, making it easier for developers to build apps that integrate with leading EHRs to improve medical decision making and lead to better outcomes. 

For developers, FHIR offers several advantages, including reuse and composability, scalability, performance, usability, and data fidelity. FHIR apps can be easily implemented using industry standards and common markup and data exchange technologies. These apps can be connected to any FHIR-enabled EHR or clinical solution, giving clinicians access to specific information from within their EHR while delivering patient care.

Integration Between EHR: A Challenge For Physicians Today

When SMART on FHIR serves as the basis for exchanging health information between providers, this might be done in either or both of two ways. In one scenario, hospitals and doctors could use the FHIR API to extract data from the EHRs of other providers, perhaps on a cloud-based platform. Alternatively, patients could make used of the effective apps to download their health information to personal health records (PHRs) stored in the cloud. After that, they can decide which information to share with particular providers, family members, or others. 

Today most of the patients expect their healthcare providers and hospitals to store their health data and allow them to access it through a portal. However, patients with serious chronic diseases are more interested in making sure that their records are shared among providers.

Clinicians may be aware of new studies that are relevant to their patients, but fail to consider the evidence unless it is presented to them in their clinical workflow. The lack of integration between electronic health record (EHR) systems and the latest clinical evidence creates a challenge for physicians.


FHIR For Better Healthcare Delivery

To overcome this challenge, providers need solutions that drive evidence-based content to the point of care for clinical decision making. For developers of clinical decision support applications, this challenge may represent an exciting opportunity, thanks to the growing use of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), the new standards framework from HL7. The FHIR API makes it easier than ever for healthcare providers and developers to leverage evidence-based content to help their organizations improve the delivery of care across a variety of settings, from ambulatory and inpatient care to post-acute and home care.

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