As communication is an essence between patient and doctor, or between medical professionals, most of the time it is found that there exists a barrier in communication. To overcome that barrier FHIR comes in place.
What is FHIR?
FHIR is a draft standard describing data formats and elements for exchanging Electronic Health Records. It is developed by HL7 (Health Level Seven) organization, a non-profit organization certified by American National Standards Institute. The system created a number of standards to structure the exchange of secured health information among healthcare specialists. Diagnostic data, clinical health data, and any administrative information form a part of it. It blends the prime feature of HL7 V2, HL7 V3, and CDA.
FHIR’s objective is to cut down on the complexity of operations without sacrificing the integrity of information. It originally began as a trial project, but when it is spotted by various EHR vendors, it hurriedly spread.
Why FHIR in Healthcare is required?
- It provides a platform for RESTful architecture, which allows the uninterrupted exchange of data using documents and messages.
- It allows the free use of specifications without any restriction.
- It uses XML or JSON as a data communication format.
- Its focal point is on active and straight implementation of the FHIR interface.
- It provides open source FHIR server that anyone can use.
- One of the main uses of FHIR is that it allows healthcare providers to launch applications right from their EHR software.
- Through FHIR interoperability, it’s easier to transfer only necessary pieces of information.
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How FHIR works?
FHIR is built around the concept of FHIR resources which are FHIR interoperability units and components that can be placed into a working system to resolve administrative, clinical, and infrastructural complications in healthcare. It provides resources for software development. The FHIR specification is classified into three parts: general documentation, implementation, and resource list
SMART on FHIR
One of the most probable questions that come to mind of the reader after learning about what is SMART on FHIR.
Well, here we will learn about it.
SMART stands for “Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies”. SMART on FHIR is developed by Boston Children’s Hospital in 2010 and Harvard Medical School Department of Biomedical Informatics, and is immensely supported by the healthcare industry.
The foremost purpose of SMART is to build interchangeable healthcare applications, which will help any developer to create a healthcare application that can work at any healthcare organization. A great focus is placed on the “substitutable” aspect of SMART, which will provide ease to healthcare experts to try new applications, which will help them in selecting the best solution for them.
It only provides guidelines on the implementation of certain technology, while FHIR HL7 creates the specification and how they want to implement it depends totally on EHR vendors.
How is SMART in FHIR App made?
The process of implementation follows a series of steps:
- Firstly, the specification is framed.
- Different EHR vendors implement the standard and specifications differently.
- EHR vendors install, update and configure their systems in order to incorporate the standards.
- Lastly, applications are built on top of the health system’s specifications.
Developing a SMART on the FHIR application
I’ve been developing an application that uses SMART on FHIR for the last few months. I’ve learned a lot about it and how it is an incredible step for software in the medical community. It does come with its challenges, but well worth the end product!
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As FHIR is a good step in the direction of consistency, we still don’t have some guarantees about what data will be provided. Not all values are available for every patient as some of them might not have a value to provide.
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Going back to our example of patient names, a name appears in many different forms and is plural A person can have any number of these name parts and even have no name at all (optional). If a patient’s name is shown on the screen, certain conditional statements and loops might be necessary.
FHIR, as a standardized data system, can come with its share of disadvantages. One example might be that it complicates things and makes the code slightly messy. However, it is not FHIR’s fault if this happens but rather a product of trying to standardize the medical field.
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FHIR v/s OTHER STANDARDS
FHIR offers certain advancements over existing standards:
- Expandable: FHIR solves expandable challenges under a Restful context. All systems can easily read these extensions no matter how they are developed.
- Supports modern web standards: Technologies like XML, JSOL, HTTP, and Atom are supported by FHIR which are less supported by existing standards.
- Excellent documentation: Using API approach which helps in good documentation of data. An API approach is nice to have and that is something Dreamsoft4u tries to provide.
- An open source: Being an open source it makes healthcare integration more accessible and transparent. Making it open has made a community of enterprises, vendors, and developers.