If you use electronic health records (EHRs) in your behavioral health practice, you may have encountered the issue of interoperability. This involves the ability of different EHR systems to share and interpret a patient’s health data. (Check out BestNotes’ previous blog posts on the subject of EHR interoperability.)
One standard for electronic health information interoperability, FHIR, has been making the rounds in quite a few articles this year. Here’s our roundup of some of the most relevant FHIR news.
FHIR Affected by Final Interoperability Rule
In March 2020, the U.S. Office of the National Coordination for Health IT (ONC) announced a new interoperability rule. This rule requires certified health IT developers to establish secure, standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs) to support patients’ access to important EHR data. FHIR is one of the standards involved, as it is required to implement the 21st Century Cures Act, which was meant to encourage EHR interoperability.
Understanding FHIR and Why It Matters
An article in Managed Healthcare Executive takes a look at FHIR itself and its significance. The latest version, FHIR 4, is considered “ready for use and stable,” and would make applications built with this version easier to be supported in the future. This article points out that FHIR API-based data exchange can encourage a more patient-centered approach to care.
The article also notes that, under the ONC’s final rule on interoperability, health plans on federal exchanges must be able to support a standardized API that is supported by FHIR 4. Starting January 1, 2021, APIs that would allow patients to access vital information like claims should meet FHIR 4 standards.
Microsoft Azure Expands API for FHIR
Earlier this year, Microsoft’s cloud computing service Microsoft Azure announced that it is expanding its API for FHIR. According to the company, this expansion will encourage interoperability and secure health information exchange.
The API was first released to the general public in November 2019. The expansion includes features that will help transform health data, including legacy health data and data from health devices, into FHIR. “Azure was the first cloud with a fully-managed, enterprise-grade service for health data in the FHIR format,” writes Heather Jordan Cartwright General Manager, Microsoft Healthcare.
Looking at FHIR’s Progress Toward Interoperability
FHIR has grown rapidly in recent years, as demonstrated by its inclusion in the ONC’s final interoperability rules. One reason for FHIR’s progress is that its creator organization, HL7, established multiple “FHIR Accelerators” to focus on important use cases.
For example, the Da Vinci Project, launched in 2018, brought together payers, providers, and health IT vendors to address FHIR use cases in value-based care. The group is focusing on projects that involve data exchange for quality measures and coverage requirements discovery. Another accelerator, the Gravity Project, examines how FHIR can be applied to data involved in care coordination and the social determinants of health.
Your behavioral health or addiction treatment practice can achieve greater interoperability, and all the accompanying benefits, with an EHR system that meets current standards like FHIR. BestNotes offers EHR and CRM solutions with features that help you collaborate and exchange information with those who need it. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo!