Cerner sees its EHR system emerging as a technology platform for a plethora of apps that leverage HL7’s emerging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard, enabling physicians to access these pluggable apps directly within their workflow to more easily visualize, interact and transmit health data.

“We’re really looking at this as Cerner is a platform versus a product solution,” says Zane Burke, president of Cerner. “We’ll know we’re there when you see a lot of apps on our platform.”

To realize this vision, Burke notes that the vendor is encouraging third-party developers to build Substitutable Medical Applications and Reusable Technologies (SMART) on FHIR apps on top of Cerner’s Millennium EHR and HealtheIntent population health platforms. So far, he notes that they have 20 validated apps.

Zane Burke
Zane Burke

Critical to fostering this development and collaboration is the Cerner Open Developer Experience, where developers can access a suite of tools to test their ideas and apps using a sandbox that supports the SMART and FHIR standards. The goal is to build apps that advance the healthcare industry through improved interoperability capabilities.

“We’re actually creating a whole ecosystem,” Burke adds. “What that means is we’re opening up a number of APIs in the Millennium solution set. We’ve created a team that helps companies on what those APIs will look like, what those standards are going to be, and how we’re going to apply that in our roadmap, as well as helping them with their business models.”

Earlier this month at the HIMSS18 conference in Las Vegas, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced the Open API Pledge initiative, which calls on providers to support current and future versions of FHIR. To date, 11 health systems have signed the pledge, including the Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger, Intermountain Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, Partners Healthcare and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Also See: UPMC’s Shrestha to help VA with Open API Pledge initiative

Asked about the VA’s Open API Pledge initiative, Burke says Cerner supports the effort.

“The VA really has the opportunity to be accelerants and create scale for the first time,” he observes. “I’m very excited about that. We are encouraging our clients to sign up, and we’re certainly going to sign as well and help to really drive that initiative. It’s an opportunity for seamless care for our veterans, exchanging patient data.”

Overall, Burke says he is optimistic about the potential for real progress in achieving interoperability industrywide in meaningful ways. “The VA, the Argonaut Project and work that’s been done with CommonWell (Health Alliance) and others is really coming together around open standards—and, I think these things will continue to evolve,” he concludes.

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