The Argonaut Project has entered Phase Two of its efforts to accelerate development and adoption of Health Level Seven International’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), an interoperability framework leveraging the latest web standards.

Many industry stakeholders are looking to FHIR—with its RESTful application programming interfaces (APIs) and OAuth-based security—as a solution to the complex challenge of health IT interoperability. They argue that RESTful APIs in particular, which are already widely used in other industries based on open/consensus-based standards, have the potential to serve as the core functionality to support data access in healthcare, becoming the enabler for health information exchange.

Launched in December 2014, the Argonaut Project recently completed its Phase One goal of providing practical/focused FHIR and OAuth implementation guides. Micky Tripathi, president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative and Argonaut Project manager, describes Phase One as a “documentation sprint” and the ongoing Phase Two of the project as a “series of testing sprints” conducted by participating organizations in concentrated two-week intervals that “get progressively harder.”

Also See: Argonaut Project for Interoperability Nears Completion of First Phase

The testing program includes two distinct test modes: FHIR servers and clients. “A server is someone who has clinical data and they’re setting up a FHIR server so that others using the FHIR standard can come and query that information and they can give it back to them, whereas we have some people who are clients who don’t have any clinical data on their own but they are able to query a system,” says Tripathi. He adds that OAuth security is “complicated” and that test “sprints” will initially focus exclusively on FHIR.

“Anyone who wants to start testing can pick up the FHIR and OAuth implementation guides and can be on their way to implementing a subset of what we think is a highly focused and implementable FHIR-based interoperability profile,” he says. Tripathi emphasizes that participating organizations, particularly electronic health record vendors, are not just conducting these tests in temporary environments for demonstration purposes only but intend to make them a part of their “production” roadmaps.     

Tripathi said that currently between 50 and 60 providers/vendors are members of the Argonaut Project, including rival EHR vendors Cerner and Epic—both of whom have been among the biggest testing participants to date in Phase Two.

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