FHIR Standard: What is FHIR and How to Be Data-Compliant

by Jesse Spencer | April 16, 2020

Discover What is FHIR - and How to Easily Make Your Data Available

Data practitioners in healthcare have long been aware of the Health Level Seven International (HL7) data exchange and information standards. This standard, created over 20 years ago, was complicated to implement, and has seen many iterations.

The original goal of the standard – to reduce information isolation and variations in how patient data is stored – hasn’t changed.

And now, with the advent of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, developed on top of HL7, healthcare data interoperability is easier to implement. For example, Apple’s iPhone Health App accesses FHIR-compliant medical records.

What is FHIR and What's The Core of the FHIR Standard?

what is fhir standardThe FHIR Standard was created to simplify HL7 without sacrificing information integrity. This is accomplished by creating an information exchange centered on the information itself, rather than on documents.

Even today, much of our health information is exchanged at the static document level, such as:

  • Fax
  • E-mail
  • Attachments in electronic health records

So by sharing information at the data (not document) level, patients won’t have to enter the same data over and over again for each Provider they visit. And Providers — including physicians — will have patient data precisely when they need it within existing workflows.

A Controversial Change

The FHIR standard has been in development, and in trial use since 2014. What has really stirred the pot, however, is the recent Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) ruling that requires access to all electronic health information at no cost (to patients).

fhir standard healthcareThe flipside of this ruling are consequences for Providers accused of information blocking, a practice that interferes with, or prevents access, or use of electronic health information. And the violation is expensive – up to $1 million per violation.

Today’s healthcare data systems must adapt to the expectations of open-access-patient-information and the FHIR standard. And patients will come to demand increased access to their own information.

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How To Comply with FHIR Standard and Easily Make Paper-Based Data Available

Healthcare data interoperability is clearly no longer a dream of the future. It is the realization of the original intent of electronic records.

fhir interoperability standardIntelligent document processing software is used to integrate non-compliant and document-based patient health records to support patient and third-party health information access.

This will happen through APIs between information storage and electronic health record systems.

And the focus of data interoperability won’t just be between providers and patients. Insurance providers and payers will also require access to standardized data to comply with the FHIR standard.

We hoped you learned what is FHIR and the history behind it.

But the modern healthcare experience isn’t just about improving the integration and exchange of data.

It’s about orchestrating all aspects of patient care with the goals of:

  • Rapid healthcare claims processing
  • Improving patient care
  • Providing on-time treatment
  • Preventing disease
  • Reducing medical errors
  • Ultimately providing the best possible patient experience
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