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  • Intersystems

InterSystems HealthShare and FHIR : What if We Created a New Interoperability Standard From Scratch?


Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) is the newest standard from Health Level Seven International (HL7®). The concept that became HL7 FHIR was first discussed in 2010 in response to a question posed to an HL7 task force: What if we created a new standard from scratch, what would it look like?

The Meaning of Interoperability has Changed

The amount of data about an individual’s health and healthcare has grown exponentially over recent decades, and continues to do so. That data is no longer just in clinics and hospitals, but comes from an increasing number of sources. “Interoperability” used to mean connecting two or more systems. Now it means accessing data in multiple systems from one point, one client, in real time. This is how many of the web applications we use today function – social media, e-commerce, financial services, and much more. In a similar way, FHIR is the technology that will allow us to see all of an individual’s health and healthcare data in one view.

Interoperability Done Differently with FHIR

FHIR is based on the same technology as mobile and web applications in other industries and on the definition of data elements and concepts in healthcare. Past HL7 standards have been published in multi-month cycles as documents. These documents required interpretation by implementers to create software applications. FHIR has instead followed the processes of open source development, relying on wikis and social media and an online draft of the standard that is publicly accessible. Development has also been driven by FHIR connectathons that are an integral part of the development process.

Rapid Adoption of FHIR

With the 3rd release of the FHIR specification in early 2017, FHIR has already seen significant adoption. Implementers have created FHIR interfaces and applications across a broad range of use cases. They range from enabling clinicians to access data in their own systems with mobile apps, to using FHIR to pass patient context from an EHR to decision support services, to identity-matching and records discovery.

InterSystems HealthShare

InterSystems has incorporated FHIR capabilities into its current releases of InterSystems HealthShare. HealthShare typically aggregates data from multiple electronic health records and other types of systems – even those that may only expose their data using legacy interfaces.

Through HealthShare all the data for an individual or a population can be transformed and aggregated as a FHIR representation, and applications developed with FHIR can access it. This FHIR repository of data allows applications based on the latest technology to use that data for patient care, value-based care, quality improvement, research, and other use cases.

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