Turning up the Heat: Using FHIR® in the Post-Acute Space

Organizations across the healthcare continuum – from ambulatory physician practices to acute care facilities – rely heavily on advanced technologies with modern architectures and frameworks to create a smooth flow of data between care settings.

Historically, however, home care agencies and other post-acute organizations have been left behind technologically and patient data has been siloed by dysfunctional, incompatible health IT platforms. Healthcare now lives in an interconnected environment and is moving away from a volume-based model to value-based care, and it’s time for post-acute providers to catch up.

There is a significant opportunity for post-acute providers to play a critical role in the overall health continuum – they just need the right technology to do so. That’s where Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) comes in.

At its core, FHIR is an excellent addition to healthcare interoperability. FHIR will play a major role in how we, as an industry, communicate patient data between health IT systems. As a result, we can certainly leverage it in the post-acute space.

Leveraging new technology to streamline systems for the future is what modern interoperability is all about, and that’s exactly what FHIR does – it takes many of the positive advancements in healthcare interoperability and modernizes the concepts from a transactional, infrastructure and content standpoint, enabling healthcare providers to achieve increased scalability.

Organizations that leverage advanced technologies, such as FHIR, will retain future flexibility and connectivity within modern networks for years to come.

Why is FHIR Beneficial?

FHIR is certainly a hot and emerging technology, and has gained much attention in the past several years. But why is it beneficial for clinicians and healthcare organizations?

There have been multiple innovative and evolutionary steps along the road to more widespread interoperability, and FHIR helps ease the evolution to successful patient-centric interoperability. FHIR solves interoperability challenges in a few key areas:

  1. FHIR is a simpler approach to the technology behind interoperability, and enables vendors with modern infrastructure to connect more quickly and seamlessly rather than requiring specialized, heavily-coded integration engines. FHIR allows developers to quickly connect and solve interoperability problems.
  2. Historically, the post-acute space has had a lot of catching up to do to deliver connectivity and FHIR is helping us enable this for our providers. FHIR enables scalability which improves speed to implementation and will help manage costs.
  3. FHIR enables the health IT industry to innovate more readily. The next generation of disruptive technologies and applications can utilize FHIR to bring their solutions to market faster – and with greater impact – because FHIR can help expand the pool of developer talent that can address healthcare needs and because it will scale well.

In and of itself, FHIR does not solve for every interoperability challenge. Other patient-centric challenges, such as patient identity across domains, record locator services, security and governance models, must be addressed. However, FHIR does a wonderful job solving a lot of technical challenges, thus saving time, money and improving the efficiency of each patient-provider interaction.

As the industry continues to shift to more care being provided outside of the hospital or doctor’s office and into the home, post-acute care is particularly well-positioned to add value. Through interoperability, and the ability to leverage FHIR’s capabilities, we can deliver software and services that help streamline processes, and keep post-acute care organizations ahead of the game.


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The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

Turning up the Heat: Using FHIR® in the Post-Acute Space