Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stakeholder’s Progress report for FHIR

The following blog entry is a guest post from Grahame Grieve, creator of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR):

"During the week of Sept 14th to 19th, HL7 held a working meeting during which the organization worked on further developing the FHIR specification.

FHIR is an important new standard, not just because it does what the existing specifications do in a simpler fashion, but because it does entirely new things as well.  Because of this, market interest and hype concerning FHIR is astonishing (see Wes Rishel’s comments ) . The FHIR project team is aware that there is a duality here: expectations and excitement about FHIR are high, but what we have published is still an early beta, and FHIR is not yet ready to meet the expectations that people have about it.  We intend and expect to get there, but it there is still a lot of work to be done.

One of the key gaps the project team has identified is that the clinical content parts of the specification are not as solid as the underlying technical framework. We know that the strength of FHIR isn’t because we’re clever, but because we keep testing it through implementation experience, particularly connectathons – a relentless cycle of test, refine, test…. Our regular developer connectathons are continuing to grow in participation, depth and sophistication, but they don’t test of FHIR’s clinical features well. So this meeting, we did something new: we held a clinical connectathon – a group of clinicians using the FHIR specification to communicate with each other about some prepared clinical scenarios. Like our first technical connectathon, the potential of the specification was clear, but we identified a number of areas where we need additional development before FHIR is ready for real world usage. We plan to make clinical connectathons a regular feature in the future.

During this meeting, we started preparing the next full release of FHIR – DSTU (Draft Standard) 2. We anticipate publishing this in the middle of 2015. It will feature new functionality for clinical records, assessments, claiming, consent management, and more, and we agreed to a number of significant changes to the specification in response to implementer experience. Several organizations (including ONC and HSPC ) and countries are working on implementation guides for FHIR, and their experiences are starting to drive the specification and the development of additional implementation tooling.

Up to now, FHIR has primarily been a standards project: a group of people with a core task of producing a standard. But now, the FHIR project and management teams are going to start placing increasing focus on engaging with the wider implementation community. Connectathons are effective forums for validating the specification, building an active implementer community and seeding specific exchanges. One important part of this will be ever closer cooperation between HL7 and IHE as IHE starts adopting FHIR in the future."

For a more detailed technical progress report, see Grahame's Website.

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