Evaluate Highest Potential Value

A lot has changed since the fantastic article by David M. Cutler, “Where Are the Health Care Entrepreneurs? The Failure of Organizational Innovation in Health Care,” published in April 2010. There, Cutler maintains that volume-based insurance payments and the lack of access to data created technology stagnation in the healthcare industry. A move to quantify quality of care and payment on that value by government and commercial payers is in the process of becoming a reality throughout the market. However, we still have a long way to go to realize the benefit of access to data through Electronic Health Records (EHR). 

For those following my blog, you know that I laid out four steps to take advantage of the new interoperability standards that are being implemented in our industry – more specifically, FHIR. (Read Blog Here, Read Step One Here). In this post I’m going to explore Step Two: Evaluate Highest Potential Value. My second step recommends that your team identify potential productivity gains and value adds that can be realized by converting from an existing data share model to FHIR.

Identify Potential Productivity Gains and Value Adds

The call for a common platform is being enthusiastically answered by some major players in the healthcare industry, who are actively working to bring FHIR to market sooner rather than later. Hoping to spark innovation and rapid adoption, it’s clear that benefits are big for those that are implementing FHIR-based API.

You can identify your own productivity gains and value adds by determining which of your file-based formats are lacking in either content, frequency, or reliability. Go ahead and supplement those areas with API interfaces and move away from legacy formats. Leveraging a common platform to translate your messages in FHIR API calls will provide a dramatic lift in efficiency over multiple proprietary APIs.

Finding Innovation in Healthcare

Another true value of FHIR is that it relies on open-source API, which will move the healthcare industry away from the restrictions of vendor lock-in. A 2015 article published by Clinical Informatics News highlights the healthcare ecosystem for the military as a case study into this issue.

According to the article, Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics, said, “[Something] we have to consider in a best-value equation is the degree to which we’re locked into a specific vendor because of proprietary content and his products… We do not want to be locked into a specific vendor.” Without the worry of vendor lock-in, innovation can flourish in the healthcare industry.

Most organizations today spend upward of $5,000 to $10,000 per HL7 interface. FHIR has an ambitious goal for integration capabilities to be built into the EHR itself, along with other aspects of authentication and security to eliminate the need for expensive integration projects and licenses.  

Most of us are waiting eagerly for our vendor partners to engage with FHIR messaging. Ensuring we know what we want, what we need, and which applications would benefit the most from adoption of FHIR puts you in the driver’s seat for an exciting new time in healthcare technology.


Seth Hobgood is CTO at Interoptex.

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