1/08/2019

You want to play with FHIR? 5 tips to get started.

Shawn Myers, RN, Senior Director of Client Clinical Solutions, Product Strategy and Experience

As we enter 2019, FHIR is transitioning from a much-hyped but underutilized standard to a mainstream capability that promises to drive interoperability and convert health IT to an open ecosystem. As of this writing, four of the major EHR vendors have active, API-based app store partner programs, and at least three more programs are in the works.

 

Many organizations are gearing up to take advantage of FHIR technology, and the fact is that most organizations undertaking FHIR implementations in 2019 will be doing so for the first time. Here are five tips to help ensure your organization succeeds with its first FHIR project.

  1. Be strategic.

    A key to successful FHIR implementations is maintaining organizational will and support. Like any initiative, it’s easier to justify your FHIR project if it’s tied to the larger strategy. Analyze your vendor mix: Who has an app available in an online marketplace and what problem does that app solve? Does it improve interoperability, streamline quality reporting, standardize care quality through clinical decision support, or improve patient engagement?
  2. Be prepared.

    Ease of implementation is one key benefit provided by FHIR-based API architectures. But nothing is easy the first time. New capabilities bring new requirements for workflow, training, configuration, testing, and more. While the new model will ultimately require less IT support than the old, it will take time for your organization to adapt. When working with clients, I recommend they budget plenty of project time for their first FHIR implementation.
  3. Be collaborative.

    Broadening your stakeholder footprint can also help ensure support for your FHIR initiative. Don’t limit your perspective to one vocal group, or even to your own organization. Do you have data-sharing arrangements with other local providers? Is there a health information exchange that might want to participate? Consider use cases that could support more and varied stakeholders, and you’ll help ensure your FHIR project’s support through greater impact.
  4. Be creative.

    FHIR-based architectures make it possible to solve old problems with new applications and technology. Take some time to think about challenges that have long plagued your organization and whether a new app might be able to help you meet them, given access to the right data and APIs. Once you’ve identified some candidate problems, challenge a development team—either internal or external—to help you find solutions.

    Creativity is not limited only to the technology. You can be creative in your business arrangements and procurement models. Several prominent organizations are experimenting with new models for funding healthcare innovation through partnerships, joint ventures, and in-sourcing entrepreneurs. Perhaps your organization could do this, too.
  5. Be bold.

    These tips will help steer you toward success in your FHIR projects, but success is never guaranteed— especially when innovating with new technologies and standards. Early adopters, those organizations with a bias for innovation, take on risk but also have much to gain. Healthcare has been without a standard like FHIR for far too long.

Getting started with the right FHIR apps can help your organization achieve your quality, availability, interoperability, and other goals in 2019! New applications and uses for FHIR technology are created every day, so it makes sense that FHIR is a hot topic at HIMSS. Planning to attend? Come see us in booth 4449.

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