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FHIR gaining support as interoperability standard

CHICAGO -- Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources has been getting a lot of attention lately. Indeed, HL7 International's fast-emerging interoperability standard even garnered a high-profile endorsement from EHR industry giant Epic Systems Corp.

At the HIMSS 2015 conference and exhibition, Epic's President, Carl Dvorak, took part in a well-attended Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) panel and the company promoted FHIR at its booth on the show floor.

There's certainly the promise of interoperability that FHIR offers that almost no other solution has been able to envision.

Charles Jaffe, M.D., CEO, HL7 International

But as Charles Jaffe, M.D., HL7's CEO, points out in this video recorded at HIMSS, support for FHIR is so broad, even across bitterly competitive rivals such as Epic and Cerner Corp., that Cerner sent a top executive of its own to last year's FHIR session at HIMSS.

"Epic certainly has an abiding interest in FHIR, and other vendors do as well," Jaffe says in the video. "There's certainly the promise of interoperability that FHIR offers that almost no other solution has been able to envision."

Jaffe describes FHIR essentially as an easy-to-use API that allows systems that have adopted FHIR to smoothly exchange health data with each other. He went on to say that while the health IT industry has made much progress in achieving intra-system interoperability, inter-system interoperability still sorely lacks.

And in the wake of ONC's recent report on information blocking, Jaffe also predicts that once FHIR is widely adopted, "the issue of blocking will become a tale of the past." As for whether FHIR is yet a true, official standard, Jaffe says that question is largely academic because FHIR is already used by many organizations even though it is still a draft standard for trial use.

Jaffe expects FHIR -- which is now being developed on a fast track by the Argonaut Project supported by Epic, Cerner, athenahealth, Inc. and other vendors -- to become a full-fledged normative standard by summer 2016.

Let us know what you think about the story or the impending increase in medical codes; email Shaun Sutner, news and features writeror contact @SSutner on Twitter.

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Essential Guide

A guide to news and analysis from HIMSS 2015

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