With a coalition of providers and health IT vendors, Health Level Seven International has launched a project to accelerate development and adoption of HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR).

Called the Argonaut Project, 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 IT. The goal is to hasten current FHIR development efforts to provide industry with “practical and focused FHIR profiles and implementation guides” by the spring of 2015, according to HL7.

FHIR, which leverages the latest web standards, has been gaining momentum as an open healthcare data standard. In October, the Health IT Standards and Policy Committees’ JASON Task Force recommended that the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT mobilize an accelerated standards development process to ready an initial specification of FHIR for certification to support Meaningful Use Stage 3.

Micky Tripathi, president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative and co-chair of the JASON Task Force co-chair, has committed his organization to serve as the project manager for the initiative. In a written statement, Tripathi said that the Argonaut Project “shows that private industry is now able to collectively and collaboratively play the lead role in rationalizing and modernizing nationwide healthcare interoperability, just as it has in other sectors of the economy.”

Among the organizations joining HL7 in this effort: athenahealth, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Cerner, Epic, Intermountain Healthcare, Mayo Clinic, Meditech, and McKesson.

“We are not creating a new organization to do this work; instead we are all unifying around HL7 as an ANSI-accredited standards development organization to deliver what we all need,” said John Halamka, M.D., CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and co-chair of the HIT Standards Committee.

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