The sponsors of the Argonaut Project, an industry-wide effort to accelerate the development and adoption of HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, have agreed on an annual sustainability model that will focus on key FHIR use cases for the foreseeable future.

A collaboration of vendors and providers, including Accenture, athenahealth, Cerner, Epic, Meditech, Surescripts, and The Advisory Board, the project has gained significant traction in developing implementation guides that are basis for their FHIR implementations. The interoperability framework leverages the latest web standards including a RESTful application programming interface.

“Once we had created the implementation guides, the initial thought was that we would be done and disband. But, I think we all realized that the process worked pretty well,” says David McCallie, MD, Cerner’s senior vice president of medical informatics.

Micky Tripathi, president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative.
Micky Tripathi, president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative.

“We stepped back and asked ‘should we keep doing this?’ and the consensus of the group was ‘yes, this is serving a useful purpose so let’s keep going,’” he adds, noting that “it’s challenging to get the right people in the room with the right attention, focus, and commitment to move these really difficult things forward in a vendor-neutral, fair way—and the Argonaut Project has served that purpose quite well.”

Late last week, the Argonaut Project announced the first major release of an open-industry general FHIR implementation guide to simplify and standardize the exchange of basic clinical data.

Also See: Why FHIR implementation guide is a milestone for Argonaut Project

“The founding members see this as a really important forum to be able to keep advancing FHIR- and OAuth-based use cases,” says Micky Tripathi, project manager of the Argonaut Project. “They’ve agreed to a sustainability model where year-on-year they will provide funding to focus on a couple of core projects.”

This year, the Argonaut Project will focus on three projects: a FHIR Provider Directory Implementation Guide, which will be published soon with final balloting of HL7 FHIR Standard for Trial Use (STU) 3; a FHIR-enabled scheduling API that will enable appointment functionality across EHR systems; as well as enhancing integration of EHRs and apps to streamline the integration of external apps into an EHR.

“It may seem arcane but one of the things we’re focusing on in 2017 is a scheduling resource,” acknowledges Tripathi. “That’s actually a really important use case for apps that will allow patients to schedule an appointment with their doctor, without having to call their office. There’s a lot of market demand for that.”

In addition, he says the Argonaut Project is working this year on “more deeply and seamlessly integrating an outside app into an EHR.”

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