FHIR Deeper dive
FHIR is healthcare's latest shiny coin. But what is it? FHIR brings the use of API's to clinical data exchange. More importantly, it defines standards for those API's. FHIR also brings JSON to the table by providing the data objects in JSON. These are important because they begin to bring healthcare IT departments into the 21st century, a decade late, but that is an improvement for the entire industry.
So FHIR solves all my integration to clinical data needs, right? No. What FHIR does is creates the basis for a more modern integration conversation. Now facilities with IT teams will converse about API's and JSON and hopefully more modern communication methodologies.
Like it's HL7 predecessors, FHIR only suggests standard ways of providing data. It is still modifiable by each implementor. This means that one EHR vendor or healthcare organization may only implement some of the FHIR API's or that they may not implement the entire API stack, or they may add their own extensions. All of these scenarios are happening today. The technical result of this is that organizations needing to integrate to a FHIR implementation will need to have knowledge of each implementation, and further will need staff resources to understand both the existing implementation and be prepared for changes.
FHIR, like HL7 and most industry driven de jur standards, is directed towards organizations who have large IT departments and budgets. In these past some of these implementations will trickle to the broader market but for the foreseeable future FHIR will be Healthcare IT's shiny coin.
Secret Agent Summary:
- FHIR is still in infancy
- FHIR does not address existing integrations or proprietary API's
- FHIR is a set of standards but individual organizations may modify, limit, or exclude any parts
- The industry is still challenged by multiple standards and data sharing methodologies