If you know the HL7 standards, then you have also learned how difficult it is to work with the HL7 standards. The most common challenges people encounter was the way the standard was interpreted and implemented, which hindered the smooth exchange of data and demanded additional layers of translation. To resolve the above issues, FHIR was established. Just like any standard has its own benefits and drawbacks, so does FHIR. FHIR’s adoption has its own challenges. FHIR was created to overcome the above said issues. In this article, we discuss the need for FHIR implementation challenges.
What is FHIR?
Many individuals in healthcare have learned of Health Level 7 (HL7), but not everyone at a super-technical level might be familiar with it. Nevertheless, most at least know that HL7 is vital for interconnecting various healthcare-related systems and that they will only want to implement HL7-compliant software.
Although it has been around for years, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR, pronounced “fire”) may not be as well-known. But there is now much-renewed interest in FHIR, especially since it was recently adopted and promoted as their preferred healthcare interface mechanism by no less than Apple and CMS.
For the future of electronic health records (EHR), both FHIR and HL7 are important.
FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is a new standard created by a non-profit organization named Health Level Seven (HL7) for the electronic sharing of health care information. The FHIR is labeled as “fire.” Healthcare records are being rapidly digitized. Their electronic health records must be accessible, discoverable, and understandable as patients travel across the healthcare environment. In addition, the data must be organized and standardized to enable automated clinical decision support and other machine-based analysis.
Also Read: What is EPIC and EMR Integration Challenges
How FHIR resources function?
FHIR is primarily developed for the internet only and operates on the principle of ‘resources,’ leading to any information that can be shared in any form, and used as building blocks to block into existing structures. It may be something, whether it is a common collection of metadata, a human-readable component or a representation system, or a common concept, by the word ‘tools’. Resources also need to be based on the structure of JSON, XML, Atom, HTTP, or OAuth. The goal is to construct a structure that can be used, regardless of how it was devised, to adapt or expand resources, to be interpreted and demonstrated by any method. In reality, FHIR is known to be used and accessed in a broad range of cloud communications, mobile apps, EHRs, etc.
FHIR Implementation Challenges
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is an innovative technology in the industry of healthcare. FHIR enables patient data outside the EHR to be accessed by clinical applications while remaining compliant with requirements. FHIR does so, like any offering or technology, with its own pros and cons. FHIR’s adoption has its own problems. It is an ongoing challenge to build application environments where medical terminology is specific without compromising accessibility for patients and others that are less medically educated. Some challenges are given below:
1. Potential threats for vendors
FHIR’s ability to shorten implementation times of essential systems such as a common health record (through effortlessness and speed of use) may be undermined by some IT vendors, which in turn decreases revenue. FHIR adoption is effectively supported by the best integration providers that facilitate speed and ease of implementation, such as CapMinds, to help transformation.
There are other contradictions that also exist when EHR providers do not enforce all the existing FHIR APIs and do so even for the example, and then they do not enforce the whole API as well. This inconsistency undermines the aim and purpose of achieving interoperability.
2. Data matching issues are quite rampant
One more challenge faced with FHIR is that the data might not always be the same. Take lab reports, for instance. If there is no standard matching technology, it is practically impossible to provide a particular terminology for a vendor-EHR. This creates problems with data matching. Most of the challenges can be solved if there is standard terminology for all such medical criteria.
3. Fast development, but fast deployment
A key feature of FHIR is a fast and simple implementation, but the standard and the programs it supports can only be deployed at a speed that can be handled by each healthcare organization. The resources needed for creating messaging, vocabulary, and interoperability standards are not apparent to many healthcare providers. In order to include FHIR, improvements in IT infrastructure are also necessary, while investment in ongoing maintenance, support, and education/training would be needed.
4. Constant vigilance and testing is important
Interoperability is maybe only at its early stage because the long and painstaking process of seamless interoperability between various systems only needs to be undertaken. FHIR is an international standard, but it will not always be compatible with anything. And you need to ensure that the validation and testing tools work to comply with the FHIR requirements for server compliance.
5. A bottom-up approach
Standard production usually starts with an enthusiastic group of volunteers, but governments are not likely to write it into law until FHIR reaches a level of maturity and adoption is likely to be slower. In the Netherlands, Canada, and England, HL7 V3 was largely popular as the standard was used to facilitate interoperable electronic health records systems.
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