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Former ONC Chief Describes makes FHIR ‘utterly powerful’

The significance of data sharing and interoperability were two major themes at HIMSS22, with the conference’s leadership underlining how the COVID-19 epidemic highlighted the dangers of isolated data. The capacity to represent data uniformly, according to Dr. Donald Rucker, former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, is perhaps a bigger win than the ability to transfer it – and he believes FHIR will be a crucial way of doing so.

Before his HIMSS22 panel, Rucker spoke with Healthcare IT News in Orlando about the promises of FHIR, how the revolution it enables would benefit patients, and what the next steps are to realise its potential. One is that you have a very uniform method of describing clinical data – note that I said “representing,” not “interoperating.” In the past, HL7v2 relied on tab-delimited files in healthcare. Then there were some other things, including the X12, which was for claims data.

Imaging, of course, has always had its own set of challenges. FHIR argues, “Let’s use modern technologies to create a unified representation for all of these things.” The regularity of it is one aspect. FHIR makes use of something called JavaScript Object Notation, which is a modern means of describing data in general.

So, the majority of the apps on your smartphone, if not all of them, are connected to a server. That is how they profit. More than likely, that back-and-forth is JSON. As a result of this back-and-forth, the second reason FHIR is essential is that it allows you to leverage the complete software stack that has been developed for the app economy. Every programmer, every kid in a garage.

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