The electronic medical record (EMR) systems of providers capture valuable patient data. But many patients can’t access this data. With the implementation of the 21st Century Cure Act mandating access for patients through the Interoperability Rule, all providers must create a platform for seamless information exchange. The CMS and ONC have stated that adopting data standards is the best way to improve interoperability and stop information blocking. One of the best healthcare data exchange standards is the fast healthcare interoperability resources (FHIR) developed by Health Level Seven (HL7). This article will examine how to use FHIR to achieve a fully integrated EMR platform for on-demand data exchange.
1. Plan to Switch from HL7 v.x to FHIR
Today, HL7 is the dominant interoperability standard in use. Many vendors and providers are still using version 2.x for their applications and interfaces.
But it is now essential to have a plan for full-fledged FHIR adoption. Here are some tips for developing your FHIR adoption strategy
- Retire or migrate your legacy systems
- Ensure you have the S. Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) as a foundation for information sharing.
- Develop or identify use cases for FHIR adoption
- Take an inventory of the technical talent required to implement FHIR
2. Get Leadership Buy-in
Successful data integration projects need a substantial budget. You need to factor in development cost, acquiring new tech skills, staff training, cloud deployment, application upgrades, and system support.
While the executive team will be happy to have full interoperability, they may not realize how many resources you need to make it a reality.
To convince your executive team to commit the funds required for FHIR adoption, you should do this:
- Provide data that shows how integration will reduce costs and raise profits
- Show how integration boosts operational efficiency
- Demonstrate how integration will eliminate unpaid claims
- Show how integration will drastically improve the quality of care
3. Shop for the Right Tech Skills
Every new technology has its unique learning curve. If you have the luxury of long learning time and a ready training budget, you can afford to send your in-house team for specialized FHIR training.
However, since most IT teams are already overstretched, you may need to hire an FHIR expert.
Consider using contract appointments to fill in skill gaps for your integration project. You can also work with a partner that will supply the expertise you need till the project is completed.
4. Focus on Consumer Engagement
In the years to come, interoperability in healthcare will be assessed by the level of patient access to health data. With the implementation of the Interoperability Rule and regulation against information blocking, your organization must provide a means for patients to retrieve health data on mobile devices.
Adopting FHIR boosts the flexibility of data exchange through the use of industry-standard APIs. FHIR is a more flexible standard for enabling internet and mobile access to patient health records. It also enhances payer-provider data exchange and collaboration.
5. Work With an HIT Vendor
When you need to build and scale FHIR-enabled applications quickly, you need to partner with a third-party service provider. It’s a more practical way to achieve results within a short time and with a constrained budget.
Indeed, long-term benefits will accrue to your organization for developing a certified FHIR. But for short-term regulatory compliance and customer satisfaction, you should partner with an interoperability expert.
Adopting and implementing FHIR-based interfaces is an effective way to achieve full integration for effective data sharing. With the support of executive leadership, a good development team, and a sound strategy, you can provide seamless access to healthcare data from multiple channels.
Achieve Your Goal of Building a Fully Integrated EMR
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