Advances in health IT are making electronic medical records (EMR) usage easier and more efficient. However, exchanging information between EMR systems and labs or radiology departments is still a significant challenge. That’s why FHIR was created. Below, we’ll look at what FHIR is, it’s benefits to developers, and how the FHIR workflow component can be used to create interoperability solutions for healthcare providers and clinicians.

What Is FHIR?

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) was developed by Health Level Seven (HL7) to provide a standard for exchanging healthcare information between disparate computer systems. FHIR enables developers to create solutions for exchanging clinical, administrative, and financial health information securely between those that have it and those who need it to help a patient receive care.

FHIR’s development was initiated in 2012 by the standards organization HL7. It was created to provide a health data interoperability solution that will be easier to understand, faster to use, and more effective when deployed. FHIR responds to the need to exchange health information in real-time using current Internet standards and technologies.

FHIR was created to use technology and standards that are easy to learn by developers who are not healthcare specialists. For instance, REST’s concept, which describes the way packets of information or resources are shared, is a foundational concept of the FHIR standard.

Benefits of FHIR for Developers of Healthcare Solutions

The FHIR standard offers software developers a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Fast implementation: Developers have said that they can implement simple EHR interfaces within 24 hours.
  • Absence of restriction: The use of FHIR is not restricted to any group, and there’s no need to obtain a license before you can use it.
  • Free tools: Developers can download many tools to enhance learning and development, including implementation libraries and reference servers.
  • Web standards: Those who are already familiar with Internet standards like HTTP, JSON, XML, and OAuth will find FHIR easy to use.
  • Large online community: FHIR has enjoyed wide acceptance across the world since its inception. As a result, a large community of active developers exists online. This makes it easy to quickly find help, support, and inspiration for new projects and applications.

The FHIR Workflow Module

The workflow module is one of the essential resources in the FHIR standard definition. It coordinates the activities between different systems. The workflow module provides specifications for three critical tasks:

  • How to ask a system, device, or person to do something
  • How to track the dependencies and linkages between activities
  • How to define the allowed activities and the order and dependencies of steps within the activities

A developer can perform a workflow by posting resources directly to a server, using messaging, using a Task resource, or through FHIR services.

Popular Use Cases for Workflows

Developers may apply workflows to different scenarios in the healthcare environment, including:

  • Creation of drug prescriptions, lab orders, insurance claims, appointments, or any administrative request
  • Negotiation of a fulfillment process such as asking for more information before a referral or making a claim
  • Providing an ordering physician with the status of an order in progress with answers such as “the blood sample has been taken,” “the preliminary results are available”
  • Define a plan for clinical or admin activities to coordinate a patient’s care and track each task’s fulfillment in the plan

Finally, it is necessary to note that developers must apply privacy and security guidelines to workflows as with all other FHIR resources. This is important because some workflows may contain personal or protected health information.

Learn More Practical Uses of FHIR

Contact Lifepoint Informatics to discover how you can use FHIR standards and protocols to develop useful connections between your EHR and other information systems. Give us a call now at 877.522.8378 to schedule a free appointment or see a demo.