As Brightree shared in the previous blog, FHIR offers many advantages over legacy standards and for that reason, MEDITECH is certifying to be CommonWell’s first fully FHIR enabled member; both supplying and consuming C-CDA documents via FHIR APIs.

We have opted to certify using RESTful FHIR APIs for ease, speed, and future-proofing. Because FHIR specifies modern file formats like JSON, which pass along their attribute names, developers don’t have to worry about the hierarchy of the data — it can be transferred and received in any order. It also means information can be inspected. A developer can see what information is present and what is missing, so you’ll never mistake a seven-digit ID number for a phone number.

A further benefit is that because FHIR is based on common internet styles, standards and protocols (HTTPS, REST, JSON, OAuth 2.0, JWT, etc.), FHIR opens the entire universe of healthcare IT development to a bigger talent pool of developers.

What’s slowed the transition from the old formats to FHIR is the need to agree on what elements an electronic medical record (EMR) will contain — its core objects, or “resources” — and how, specifically, those elements will be transferred. In the past couple of years, government regulation and Argonaut Project initiatives have paved the way for FHIR adoption.

As a founding member of the Argonaut Project, MEDITECH, in particular, has embraced FHIR API development by implementing the Argonaut derived Data Query APIs on its new API platform. Together, Change Healthcare, as the CommonWell services provider, and MEDITECH have incorporated these APIs into the CommonWell services library.

Now, certainly, the use of FHIR does not stop here. Document sharing using FHIR APIs is just the beginning. FHIR can be used to vastly improve data sharing across the network by pulling discrete sets of data instead of long pages of inconsistently presented health data.

Imagine being able to query a healthcare data network for a patient’s allergies, have the information pulled from all locations where the patient has received care, and further, have the results correlated so you can see a single list of all that patient’s active allergies.

That’s the vision FHIR makes possible and the one that animates CommonWell, MEDITECH, and other CommonWell members.

I would encourage anyone interested in seeing CommonWell’s use of FHIR, to come to the CommonWell Health Alliance Nationwide Care Transitions HIMSS Interoperability Showcase in March.

There you will be able to see Cynthia traverse between different states, different settings of care and  different CommonWell member systems as she receives care. In our role, MEDITECH will query the CommonWell Health Alliance Broker using FHIR to pull down her health records from her previous care provider visits, and MEDITECH will make her records available on the CommonWell Health Alliance network by supplying C-CDA documents via FHIR APIs to the other care locations as Cynthia receives care.

We look forward to seeing you at HIMSS and continuing to innovate using the FHIR standard.

Chris Kundra, Manager of Interoperability Development, MEDITECH