Efforts to bring an Internet-based solution to healthcare's lackluster capability to exchange electronic information has gained momentum with the cooperation of five rival developers of electronic health-record companies and four large, tech-savvy health systems.
The group has signed on to an initiative dubbed the Argonaut project, launched by standards development organization Health Level Seven (HL7).
“It brings Facebook-, Google- and Amazon-like thinking to healthcare IT,” said physician informaticist Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a participant in the alliance.
Initiative organizers convinced Epic Systems, Cerner Corp., Athenahealth, Medical Information Technology (MEDITECH) and McKesson Corp. to pledge to promote the accelerated development and adoption of a framework called Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR (pronounced “fire”), and to ultimately allow data to flow smoothly among the companies' products.
EHR vendors increasingly are finding that their customers “want to make sure they're not locked into the capabilities that only the developer has created,” said Dr. David McCallie, president of medical informatics at Cerner. “It's the way the rest of the industry has moved and healthcare can't ignore it.”
Much of health-information exchange today is based on moving static electronic documents—such as care summaries—from one provider to another. The new framework, Halamka said, would enable both EHRs and mobile applications to not only read data from each other, such as lab values or care plans, but also write data back in formats that every system can compute and display.