FHIR, commonly known as Fat Healthcare Interoperability Resources, is a standard that defines how healthcare data can be exchanged from one computer to another regardless of how the information is stored in the respective systems. FHIR standard is designed to allow healthcare information, including administrative and clinical data, to be accessed securely by every user who needs to access it. The information is also available to anyone permitted to access it while serving patients at a medical facility. The system was designed and developed by the standards development organization Health Level Seven (HL7). It uses a collaborative approach when it comes to developing and upgrading FHIR.
HL& is a non-profit and ANSI-accredited organization that develops standards and is dedicated to developing a comprehensive system and associated standards for integrating, exchanging, retrieving and sharing electronic health data to support clinic management and practice. It also supports delivering and evaluating all healthcare services in a clinic. With the support of over one thousand six hundred members, including government stakeholders, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical companies, and consulting firms, among many others, from more than fifty countries, the system continues to remit excellent services to all users.
Who Exactly is the FHIR Standard Meant for?
FHIR standard was recently developed; however, its use globally is rapidly increasing. The standard was upgraded to include financial resources, imaging resources, and clinical decision support resources that have spearheaded increased precision medicine, all-inclusive data analytics, and automated clinical pathways. Another input that has enabled the growth of the FHIR standard is the constant expectation from the new generation of physicians and patients that the sharing of healthcare information should be as secure and convenient as financial services information sharing.
Every healthcare service provider recognizes the need and essence for the standardization of information manipulation and representation, with many working towards achieving this for many years. However, the biggest accelerator for the growth of the FHIR standard is the government regulatory requirements as well as the adoption of FHIR by healthcare software companies. Some of the renowned healthcare software vendors include Allscripts, Epic, athenahealth, and Cerner, among many others. More so, consumer companies have taken up FHIR, such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple, making a big milestone for all healthcare providers to adopt it fast.
FHIR and the World
Most countries across the globe have some set of interoperability initiatives connected with the FHIR standard. To get an idea of this, here are some of the critical examples:
The NHS Digital is part of the National Health Service and is a publicly funded healthcare system based in England. The organization develops, designs, and operates the data services and national IT that offer clinician support as they work, assist patients in receiving the best care, and utilize data to improve overall healthcare. They have adopted the FHIR release four, and they intend to use it to create a unified means for interoperability across Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England. This will open doors to consistent data flows across the borders, improving care and health outcomes for all citizens.
Canada has massively utilized the FHIR standards at different levels. On a national level, the country has made strides with FHIR in the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Standards Council of Canada, Canada Health Infoway InfoCentral, and the Industry Trade Association of Canada. In addition to this, at the provincial level, one of the organizations that have taken up the FHIR is the Health Information Standards Committees.
Brazil is another country that has adopted FHIR standards in different sectors. For instance, the IT Department of the Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS), part of the Brazilian Ministry of Health, launched the largest platform worldwide, called National Health Data Network for national health interoperability. The system uses the HL7 FHIR R4 as the standard for all data exchange.
The Advantages of the FHIR Standards
The FHIR standards bear several benefits, especially to the users that have adopted them to their systems. These are some of the advantages that the FHIR provides to software developers:
Fast and Simple Implementation
Many developers worldwide have reported that they experienced friendly and straightforward interfaces that could be implemented in a single day. This shows that any organization can easily adopt the FHIR interface.
It is Free
The FHIR is free to use and has very minimal restrictions. However, this does not mean that the data is compromised; the standard encryption remains high throughout.
It Receives Worldwide Support
The FHIR standard has continued to receive massive support from some of the largest companies and organizations around the world. Such vendors include Apple Inc, Epic, Cerner, Google, and Microsoft, among many others.
It Features Easily Accessible Tools
FHIR standard has a lot of free, downloadable, and online tools that include implementation libraries and reference servers. This has made the system more usable by many organizations, with the support systems being top-notch.
It is Versatile in its Use
FHIR is available for use in diverse environments, including cloud communications, server communications in big institutional healthcare providers, mobile phone applications, and EHR-based data sharing, among many more.
ItOffers New Interoperability Opportunities
The FHIR standard provides new interoperability opportunities, including the direct exchange of information with patients, allowing patients to access their medical records through a phone app or common web portal.
The Disadvantage of FHIR Standard
The FHIR is amazing; however, it has its downside. For instance, not every use case in the medical field can be accounted for in a standard. In addition, the ever-changing pharmaceutical and clinical and the wide breadth of healthcare solutions make the task too big for the system.
The FHIR standard is revolutionary in many large sectors on the broader spectrum. All permitted users to access critical healthcare data, making work more effortless and more efficient in the health industry. Information sharing extends to broader fields such as government organizations and other large companies. Its constant upgrading has enabled it to grow and increased the number of organizations adopting it. It remains a solution to information sharing needs.