Tuesday 5 March 2013

FHIR – a 'Fire'! (Quick Introduction)

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources has emerged from HL7 Fresh Look initiative (Jan 2011). Pronounced as “Fire”, it is a framework for data exchange technologies which offers interoperability capabilities of RIM but hides the complexity of V3.

FHIR is a draft specification that is still undergoing development prior to balloting as a full HL7 standard

Many of us are very excited about this and some have named it as V4 (it will not be marketed as V4 by HL7).
From here I would like to divert this discussion towards a need for a Fresh Look.

Some key factors in poor market penetration of V3 are
                Complex standard
                Long development lifecycle
                High implementation cost
With these V3 couldn’t break the mindset of people who are used to work on V2 – a pretty simpler, widely accepted standard and have solved integration problems for years.
CDA has been accepted by healthcare community and implemented widely but documents are not enough to serve health data exchange needs.
Yes, V3 has a poor adoption but considering a fact that V3 development was started in late 1990, I suppose, there were limited technologies and healthcare data exchange needs identified. Healthcare has evolved since then and now we feel a need for new standard that works with new technologies available today.
This is necessary, eventually standards & technologies shall change according to needs for better healthcare services.

With the announcement of FHIR there are many speculations. Some of the concerns are:
               Will it replace v2/v3?
               Shall I wait for FHIR?

It is too early to decide if it will replace v2/v3 but not recommended to wait for it. FHIR is still a work in progress & how market responds to it will decide many upcoming trends in healthcare data exchange.

Hl7 is committed to the development and support of V2 & V3 artifacts. Hl7 has released V2.7 and also working to release CDA R3. There continue to be markets for all HL7 standards.
For now, it will not replace existing standards but all these standards will co-exist and work together for better healthcare service.

With this I see more opportunities for integration engine/service providers in future.
I will explain basics of FHIR in my next post.



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