We’ll admit it, it’s true: FHIR isn’t exactly new. The initial draft of FHIR was published in 2011, which in tech years is ancient. HL7, which it’s built on top of, is decades old. Although it’s been adopted here and there for a decade, it’s still not exactly everywhere. So why should you care about moving in that direction in 2021?
The answer is a lot of good reasons. For starters, and perhaps most importantly, the first wave of 21st Century Cures act requirements take effect this year! The 21st Century Cures act further stipulates that all patients should have electronic access to their medical records (via smartphone, even!) by 2022. That is a tight timeline for such a fundamental change. Standardization via FHIR is a big part of that. If you are not paying attention to it already you should be. If for no other reason than to ensure you’re where you need to be to be compliant.
There are many reasons outside of legal requirements to pay attention to FHIR, too. Of course, there’s the obvious one, it is just good customer service to let patients see their records when and how they want to. Also, the more standardized, legible, and thorough patient records are, the better use doctors will be able to make of them while administering care. Without a standardized, interoperable way of sharing medical data between facilities and providers, it becomes difficult to efficiently gain a full picture of patients’ health, which can impede diagnosis and treatment and lead to unnecessary slowdowns with patients. In addition, standardization can reduce fraud, errors, and unnecessary human work related to transferring non-standardized records. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Also, in general, the healthcare industry is becoming more and more data-driven. Medical data, of course, is a deeply complex and difficult-to-standardize thing, with everything from doctors’ notes to treatment plans to medical claims to test results and beyond playing into the whole picture of even a single patient. That does not mean we should not try to standardize. Greater standardization means better automation and analytics being possible, which in turn means more opportunities for data-driven research and patient care. There are so many potentially cool applications of this, particularly along the lines of crunching large sets of FHIR records to look for medical patterns in specific diagnoses to better predict diagnoses in future patients. That might not happen tomorrow, but it is likely to happen someday; with more standardized parts of medical records, like claims, it is happening already.
The FHIR Solution and How We Can Help
Now, as I have said before FHIR isn’t perfect, but it has proven beneficial in providing an easy-to-implement approach to accessing healthcare resources. There is work to do when it comes to standing up your infrastructure and marrying it to your existing environment. To achieve true interoperability your data will also need to be mapped and normalized to the standards identified in FHIR specifications. At Vorro, we have experience doing just that. Our BridgeGate platform easily handles this complexity with our template driven approach to integration. In most cases we can do it in days not months.
Across the Industry
By the way, did I mention that CMS is requiring that your data reaching back to 2016 be made available also? No matter your organizations size, that is a lot of data. It can be a challenge to implement these standards by July 2021. A recent survey estimated that only 18% of providers and 36% of payers have current expertise in FHIR data exchange models. This study also cited a lack of prioritization and cost concerns as key issues across the industry and noted that 79% of payers and 69% of providers are considering using vendor solutions to meet the requirement deadlines.
All in all, the moral of the story is don’t get burned in 2021. Take a look at your ability meet the requirements set by CMS before it’s too late. It may have been decades coming, but the fact of the matter is that FHIR’s time is now. To be part of the 21st century—and compliant with the 21st Century Cures Act—you have to take the leap and modernize your records for today’s consumer. We can help you do just that!
At Vorro we are positioning our clients to leverage the FHIR standards. This is the future of data exchange, and we are prepared to meet this need in the market today. To learn more about Vorro and our complete portfolio of solutions visit https://vorroconnect.com.
If you are ready to leverage your data in ways you never thought of, call us to INTEGRATE NOW!
Billy Waldrop is the Chief Operations Officer for Vorro, Inc. Billy has dedicated his career to managing and developing complex systems for the manufacturing and healthcare industries. He spent 10 years at the Mayo Clinic, where he supervised and directed teams responsible for the development and support of critical Patient Financial Services systems. He holds an MBA and a B.S. in Professional Management, along with many certifications from the Mayo Clinic.