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Forecasting the future of HL7 FHIR at HIMSS20

In Orlando, health IT professionals will get an update on what FHIR currently can and can't do - and what to expect from it going forward.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Update: HIMSS20 has been canceled due to the coronavirus. Read more here.

Micky Tripathi is very familiar with the excitement caused by FHIR.

"What's happening more and more, usually there's a lot of excitement around FHIR because people have a lot of hope and expectations as to what FHIR will be able to do as far as unlocking data," said Tripathi, president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative Project and manager of the Argonaut project. "Increasingly we're finding mixed audiences. There's some very fresh eyes and perspectives and those familiar with clinical care and EHRs, but who are not familiar with FHIR as a standard."

What healthcare professionals want to know, he said, is when will their EHR system be FHIR-enabled; when will they be able to use it for interoperability and for payment systems and prior authorization; and how can they map earlier versions to later versions of FHIR? Also, what about the HL7 FHIR Accelerator Program and other projects within the program, including Argonaut and Da Vinci?

Tripathi and Grahame Grieve, FHIR product director, HL7 International, intend to sort through the questions to talk about what is possible now and what to expect at HIMSS20.

If implemented in the wrong way, technology can become more of a wet blanket than something useful, Tripathi said. Health IT standards are important.

Currently, FHIR is ready for use for exchange of medical record information, such as medications and laboratory results, called the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability. The application programming interface FHIR API is available for most major EHR systems today for patient access to data, such as through the Apple Health Record, which is based on Argonaut Project FHIR specifications.

It's not currently being used for providers to exchange information though. And, as a new standard, it's not yet ready for exchanging more specialized information such as if an oncologist wants specific information on a gene or biomarker.

An estimated 85% of hospitals have FHIR in their systems, Tripathi said, citing data from the Office of the National Coordinator Health Information Technology.

FHIR is evolving, through an incremental process, each year. HL7 FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) continues the strong trajectory of adoption, spurred further by the ONC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services writing FHIR into its forthcoming interoperability rules.

Micky Tripathi and Graham Grieve will explore the future of FHIR during their HIMSS20 session, "HL7 FHIR: What's Now and What's Next." It's scheduled for Tuesday, March 10, from 10:30-11:30 a.m. in room W311E.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com