Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) doubles as a data format standard and an application programming interface. It was developed by HL7 to enhance interoperability between Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems in the healthcare industry. While FHIR has been in use for many years, renewed interest in HL7 to FHIR has been prompted by the use of the latter by Apple Health Record as their preferred API for healthcare applications.

HL7 versions 1, 2, and CDA have also been used for decades. But many of the weaknesses of the HL7 interoperability standard are now being addressed in FHIR version 4. Here is a brief explanation of HL7, FHIR, and their potential to create a truly interoperable healthcare information network.

How does FHIR differ from HL7?

Creating HL7 interfaces requires detailed programming to connect two EHRs or information systems. These interfaces will also have to be maintained and supported to preserve their integrity. On the other hand, using FHIR eliminates the need for complex EHR interface programming.

Combining web services with FHIR APIs can create healthcare apps that work the same way as newsfeeds from social media. Creating an app with FHIR API enhances communication between EHRs, devices, and mobile applications. The APIs offer a standardized interface for applications to use to send and receive data with the appropriate security authentication.

How does FHIR enhance EHR operability?

FHIR was developed with a prime purpose: to ensure that EHRs using the FHIR standard are interoperable. That’s why it has a detailed description of data formats and resources. FHIR supports open standards including SMART — sustainable medical applications reusable technologies.

SMART reduces the time and effort required by healthcare app developers to connect their systems. In essence, as long as an EHR provides support for SMART through FHIR, clinicians, and patients can use it to enhance clinical care, public health, and research.

SMART also takes care of security, which is a major concern among healthcare providers. It has a secure authorization model for applications. This allows providers and patients to manage their data without the fear of hacking and data breaches.

What is the future of FHIR?

Before investing in an EHR or application that uses FHIR, it’s important to know what prospects the technology has going forward.

Presently, FHIR is ready for medical record exchange. You can use it to send and receive lab results, prescriptions, and medications. It works for patients who access their health data through Apple’s Health Record app.

Data from ONC shows that 85% of providers have FHIR in their information systems. The standard is evolving, and it is expected that providers should be able to use it to exchange specialist information in the near future.

Discover How an HL7 to FHIR Transition Can Better Exchange Healthcare Information

At Lifepoint Informatics, we understand how to use the FHIR standard to improve interoperability among EHRs, devices, and information systems.

Call us now at 877.522.8378 to discover how you can use this standard to improve the efficiency and productivity of your operations and boost your quality of care.