HL7 gives a glimpse of FHIR 5

Health Level 7 International on Monday offered a peek at its roadmap for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, aka FHIR 5.

FHIR is widely viewed as holding great promise for enabling health data sharing among vendors, providers, payers, government, health information exchanges and other entities. 

HL7 earlier this month posted the eagerly awaited FHIR 4 iteration — which is the first version of the interoperability specification to be normative.

That was seen as a milestone for EHR and other software vendors, as well as startups and innovative hospitals looking to implement FHIR can now plan future versions including and beyond FHIR 5 being backward compatible with FHIR 4. 

Several electronic health record vendors, in fact, run developer programs in which third party innovators can use FHIR and open APIs to build on their platforms. Among the needs for such programs to thrive is a single version of FHIR and broader support for the spec.

What’s more, the biggest software companies in the world continue homing in on healthcare. Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce, in fact, came together during a White House hackathon over the summit in a pledge to eradicate interoperability barriers that was noticeably short on details other than to say cloud, FHIR, and the Argonaut Project will somehow be involved.

FHIR Product Director Grahame Grieve explained on the HL7 blog that FHIR 5 will build on FHR 4 with more content formally becoming normative, enhanced publishing implementation guides, additional content in new domains, improved support for apps that use more than one version of FHIR, multi-language support, federated servers and “new facilities for migrating data to and from v2 messages and CDA documents.”

“The community will continue to develop the adjunct specifications to FHIR – SMART App Launch, CDS Hooks, FHIRCast, CQL, Bulk Data specification, and others – that build out a complete API-based ecosystem for the exchange of healthcare data,” Grieve wrote. “HL7 will also continue to collaborate with our many partners across industry, government, and academic communities to support the overall development of data exchange and health process improvement.”

Grieve said HL7’s normal development cycle is about 20 months, so FHIR 5 could be ready in 2020 — but he also added that the organization will survey its members to see if they would prefer waiting longer to ease the convergence to a single version.

Twitter: @SullyHIT
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Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication. 

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