Pilot to test data exchange using FHIR-based apps

Regenstrief Institute, a pioneer in development of electronic health records, computerized order entry and health information exchange technologies, has launched a pilot to test apps designed to exchange healthcare data electronically.

Health information exchanges have not been as successful as envisioned, and many areas across the nation do not have access to a functional HIE, says Titus Schleyer, DMD, Ph.D, and an investigator at Regenstrief.

The new approach is use to point-to-point HIE, which Schleyer calls, “almost an instant HIE.” Leveraging the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) from Health Level Seven, researchers will develop apps that enable organizations using FHIR to more easily share data.

This can be done by merging data from a patient’s electronic health records with the patient’s additional information already stored in the Indiana Network for Patient Care, which is the state’s HIE.

The beauty of the approach, however, is that it doesn’t require an HIE infrastructure, just two organizations that have adopted FHIR apps, Schleyer says. As long as two organizations are using FHIR, they can use the apps to support data exchange and prescribe apps to consumers to enable them to share data with their clinicians. Participating organizations, however, need to employ patient-matching algorithms to appropriately export data elsewhere.

“Imagine that you as a patient can use an app on your smartphone to reconcile multiple lists of medications maintained by several care providers into one authoritative current list,” Schleyer says.

Over time, FHIR-based apps could be more complicated, such as aiding patients and their providers in managing diabetes by drawing in lab results and prescriptions, creating a Siri-type or GPS-type of app to get turn-by-turn directions for diabetes management. FHIR now is mature enough to do this, according to Schleyer. But, the biggest challenge will be getting clinicians and consumers to demand these types of FHIR apps, he adds.

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