National electronic prescription network vendor Surescripts knows a thing or two about health information exchange, having moved 1.5 billion prescriptions, 80 million medication histories and 1 million controlled substance transactions in 2014.

The company in recent years has expanded its services to include a variety of clinical data and 2014 was a breakout year, says Jeff Miller, executive vice president of clinical network services. “We moved 7 million clinical messages between providers, 8 million immunization reports to registries, and almost 4 million immunization notifications to providers. We’re starting in the most basic level to move data and people are taking advantage of rudimentary technologies.”

Further, a newer Surescripts service of connecting providers and insurers with electronic prior medication authorizations started to take off and the industry will see that needle moving in 2015, adds David Yakimischak, executive vice president of medication network services.

But a big industry achievement in 2014, Miller and Yakimischak believe, has been the momentum gained by the Jason Argonaut initiative of Health Level Seven International to accelerate development and adoption of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), a new way of exchanging data.

The initiative seeks to rapidly develop a first-generation FHIR-based application programming interface and core data services specification to enable expanded information sharing for electronic health records and other health information technologies, with a goal of having profiles and implementation guides by the spring of 2015. FHIR is an open healthcare data standard leveraging the latest Web standards, and it could wind up as a requirement under Stage 3 of the EHR meaningful use program.

In 2014, with EHRs still unable to easily exchange data with each other, a buyer’s remorse set in that EHRs are necessary, but they are what they are and alternatives to data exchange are needed, Yakimischak says. Early in the year, Jason Argonaut was a germ of an idea and as the year ends that idea has germinated, he adds.

The progress being made is coming at a time when new interoperability models are being sought, Miller says. “The Jason Argonaut API initiative is moving people forward on the types of technology we need.”

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