HL7 accelerators aim to speed FHIR’s role in data sharing

Through the work of the Da Vinci Project and other initiatives, the info exchange standard is the basis for helping the industry gain efficiencies.

Improving the industry's ability to share clinical data contributes to efficiency: Charles Jaffe, MD, HL7's CEO

Data sharing has emerged as a major factor in advancing efficiency and effectiveness in healthcare, but accomplishing this among diverse stakeholders has always proved challenging.

Enter HL7, its Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) standard and various related initiatives intended to make progress that all sectors can take advantage of.

In a presentation from the HDM KLASroom, Kirk Anderson (vice president and chief technology officer at Cambia Health Solutions), Viet Nguyen, MD, (chief standards implementation officer at HL7) and Charles Jaffe, MD, (HL7 CEO) discussed the standard organization’s resources for addressing data-sharing difficulties in healthcare.

“The challenge that all of us face is enabling the sharing of clinical data with other communities so that we're more effective in providing better care for our patients at a lower cost,” Jaffe said. “HL7 has developed a process whereby HL7 has grown around the world and brought interoperability closer and closer to the state that we hope to achieve in the coming years.”

Accelerators advance FHIR

HL7 has directed development work into its FHIR accelerator programs, which it created to speed the development and availability of FHIR to healthcare stakeholders.

“Each of our accelerator programs actually consists of dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals that are supporting their communities in developing implementation guides,” Nguyen said. “We are growing a set of activities around implementations to make the implementation guides more readable and easier for the community to adopt.”

One HL7 accelerator program is known as the Da Vinci Project, which is working to develop “use cases” for FHIR coding that can support value-based care data exchanges between providers and payors.

“The Da Vinci Project is really a collaboration between the provider community, the payor community and the vendors that support both of them, in identifying workflows that can support value-based care, which is really where we're shifting our work,” Nguyen explained.

Seeking common ground

Anderson shared his experiences with the Da Vinci Project, which began with forging connections.

“One of the most important first steps that we have in healthcare is finding partnerships. And for us at Regence – a payor in the Pacific Northwest, where I work – that has meant that we’re reaching out to provider systems like MultiCare, Providence and OHSU to identify the use cases that are going to drive the most value for patients and help us reduce burdens for providers and payors alike,” he said.

For Anderson and his colleagues, two real-world use cases for the Da Vinci Project and its collaborative initiatives have included data exchange for quality measures and member attribution, through which payors can identify members covered under a value-based agreement. These have led to impressive outcomes for MultiCare, including a 60 percent decrease in patient-matching error rates.

Anderson is also anxious to leverage a Regence-developed SMART on FHIR app for a prior authorization use case.

"What's really exciting about this work that we are about to go into production with, is that the tool can automatically reach into the EMR system and automatically populate the clinical data that corresponds to the particular procedure in question,” he explained. “This allows the provider to validate that data, make changes, and then ultimately submit it in real time.”

How to get involved

Some healthcare organizations may be eager to benefit from an HL7 accelerator program but may be wondering where to start. “I would start with your compliance office in terms of understanding what you already have to comply with, with regard to interoperability and FHIR,” Nguyen suggested. “From there, grow your capabilities so that you can leverage the additional technologies and implementation guides available from the Da Vinci Project and other accelerators and implementers.”

“The FHIR accelerators themselves provide the direct answers that are best suited to the individual, specific needs of the community,” Jaffe added.

Anderson and his colleagues will continue their efforts with the Da Vinci Project because they believe in its power to better the lives of all healthcare stakeholders.

“We are incredibly excited to keep accelerating this work to demonstrate how these business processes can work in an extended way that breaks down the barriers and silos between payors and providers and other healthcare ecosystem parties — and to do it in a way that's secure and that scales.”

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