HL7, HSPC join forces to solve interoperability challenges

Health Level Seven International and the Healthcare Services Platform Consortium have signed a collaboration agreement opening the door for the organizations to undertake joint projects aimed at solving industry-wide interoperability challenges.

The collaborative effort is meant to support the development of HL7’s emerging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. HSPC is a group of providers, IT vendors and system integrators that are dedicated to creating an open ecosystem of interoperable applications, content and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) services, and the organization has been a champion of FHIR for several years.

According to Oscar Diaz, HSPC’s chief executive officer, his organization held the first FHIR summit with Grahame Grieve—architect of the open healthcare data standard—before the Argonaut Project was formed by HL7 to accelerate its development and adoption.


“We’ve been working together silently without a formal memorandum of understanding, and we felt that we needed to put one in place in order to let the market know what each of us is doing and how we’re collaborating,” Diaz says.

The HL7-HSPC collaboration will focus on:

  • Contributing to the development of consistent representations of health data, including HL7’s Clinical Information Modeling Initiative (CIMI) Work Group models that can be incorporated into the FHIR profiles.
  • Developing tools to support standards development and adoption.
  • Demonstrating the value of FHIR in real-world implementations by HSPC member organizations.
  • Launching joint projects focused on engaging clinicians in the validation of clinical data representations and on standards to support coordination of care. The first will be launched at the Clinical Information Interchange Collaborative meeting in June.

Founded in May 2013 by Intermountain Healthcare, Louisiana State University and the Department of Veterans Affairs, HSPC supports a plug-and-play model for interoperability based on a SOA platform as well as standard clinical data models and terminologies to achieve true semantic interoperability.

Also See: HSPC incorporates, gears up to tackle interoperability problem

“We are delighted to work with HSPC to develop detailed FHIR profiles based on our CIMI models. Together we are engaging the clinical specialty communities to develop a common set of FHIR-based solutions to simplify workflows, effectively allowing clinicians to provide better patient care,” said Chuck Jaffe, MD, CEO of HL7.

“HSPC is committed to using the detailed models that come from the HL7 CIMI Work Group,” says Stan Huff, MD, chief medical informatics officer at Intermountain Healthcare, chair of the HSPC Board of Directors and co-chair of CIMI. “We have about 2,500 very detailed models for laboratory data. We’re working in other areas, and we’ve got some great pilot projects that are going on, including with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”

Also See: Emerging FHIR standard just the start of interoperability efforts

The mission of CIMI is to improve the interoperability of healthcare systems through shared implementable clinical information models.

“We have many different ways of expressing the meaning of information in clinical settings,” says Diaz. “What HSPC is trying to do, along with Intermountain, VA and CIMI at HL7, is supporting harmonization to make sure that we begin having one way of ‘speaking’—so to speak—from the standpoint of the semantic meaning of information.”

“FHIR is, after all, grammar,” adds Jaffe. “The content has to be specified so that it’s unambiguously understood. If we don’t understand the words, having magnificent grammar isn’t going to solve the problem. CIMI allows for adherence to information modeling that makes the vocabulary more precise.”

“People are going to have real benefit from FHIR and I think it’s exactly the way to go,” concludes Huff. “But we need to help people understand, though, that to get to true semantic interoperability there’s going to be more work to do to really add that additional information.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.