For healthcare payors and organizations, the HL7® FHIR® (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources 1) standard is crucial to data interoperability efforts. This standard is designed to improve data interoperability by providing a standardized way to exchange and integrate health information from multiple sources stored in disparate systems.
And as healthcare payors look for ways to enable or improve collaboration across different care teams and settings, interoperable data will be paramount. The key to accurate and expedient value-based care, data interoperability can make or break a payor’s ability to properly serve its population.
Burdens on IT Team Make Data Interoperability a Challenge
However, aligning data with the FHIR® standard can be draining for healthcare IT departments. Many already face tight staffing and resource allocation challenges, so taking a multitude of different data sets and transforming them into a single uniform format, or various compatible ones (some systems demand specific data formats) is an added burden.
IT staff need to manage the complexity of implementation-related tasks like data mapping, workflow adjustment, and security requirements, and the ongoing demands of evolving data requirements, while scaling to accommodate new data sources as organizations add patient populations or connected technologies.
IT departments also feel the strain, as demand increases for skilled analysts, developers, and administrators. And already-stretched IT departments face time-consuming tasks related to achieving FHIR® compatibility:
- Executing data mapping and transformation processes that are effective, ensure a smooth transition, and don’t compromise data integrity
- Handling existing datasets that don’t conform easily to the FHIR® standard
- The security of protected health information and patients’ personal identifiable information
- Keeping up with FHIR® resource versioning as the standard evolves over time
- Ongoing maintenance and upgrades are necessary to keep data flowing after implementation (For example, care management departments alone typically require 10 to 50 data pipelines to operate seamlessly)
- Planning strategies to integrate FHIR® with various existing EHR and EMR systems
- Accounting for new data formats and groups as technologies capture more information and insights
- Minimizing the impact of FHIR® data transformations on existing clinical workflows
Below, we discuss how payors can overcome the challenges preventing true data interoperability and FHIR® implementation without strangling IT resources.
Why is FHIR® Data Interoperability Essential to the Future of Healthcare?
Coordinated care depends on connected, actionable data
Mounting evidence ties patient-centered, collaborative care to better outcomes for members, higher job satisfaction for staff, and reduced costs for systems and payors.
Establishing a connected care ecosystem where all care team members can access real-time information on a member’s current and historical health is pivotal to achieving collaborative care. But in most healthcare organizations, data still exists in siloes – clinical record databases, EHRs, patient portals – a plethora of systems that don’t communicate.
This data interoperability problem prevents providers and care team members from optimal use of data to improve treatment and care planning decisions. Worse, a lack of interoperability can lead to fragmented, inaccessible patient information that negatively impacts the quality and cost-effectiveness of care, according to a 2019 study published in the Online Journal of Nursing Informatics.
FHIR® is becoming the gold standard for health data interoperability because it enables developers to build standardized browser applications that allow access to clinical data from any healthcare system regardless of the operating systems and devices that are used.
With member health outcomes on the line, and proposed requirements from regulatory agencies including CMS and HHS that prioritize data interoperability, it’s up to payors to make sure they have a sustainable approach to adopting FHIR® standards.
FHIR® Data Tools: What Capabilities Are Critical to IT Departments?
Removing the burden from already-strained IT and engineering departments depends on leveraging the right technology to alleviate the challenges above. However, many tools fail to deliver on their promise to ensure seamless data transformations. Implementations tend to be long and resource-intensive, sabotaging ROI. Or some aren’t able to support all data formats or integrations. Or, the tools are so expensive, that some organizations run down budget with multiple tools.
HELIOShub specifically works to solve these issues for healthcare IT staff while helping organizations lower costs and streamline efficiencies for data integrations and usage
Clients who use HELIOShub for FHIR® data transformation have seen these benefits:
Significantly less reliance on IT and engineering departments. With a simple user experience that requires no advanced certification or IT specialization, healthcare payors can integrate and manage data with far less involvement from IT.
Simpler, faster integrations. HELIOShub eases the process of importing data from EHRs and other common sources like ADT feeds and utilization management clinical guidelines. That’s because the platform provides:
- No-code, drag-and-drop integration builder
- FHIR® store with leading implementation guides
- Comprehensive library of APIs
- Real-time bidirectional data flows
- Configurable data transformations to/from FHIR®
- Unlimited application connections
- Event-based automation
- The ability to adopt FHIR® as part of existing data architecture or build a front-end application with a fully functional backend FHIR® Clinical Data Repository
- Shorter time to market. Clients have experienced integrations that are 65% shorter than traditional FHIR® transformation efforts. HELIOShub has also compressed delivery times for complex bi-directional data flows by 80%.
HL7, FHIR and the FHIR ® are the registered trademarks of Health Level Seven International and their use does not constitute endorsement by HL7.