In a HL7 press release on Thursday, a group composed of the largest EHR vendors, some leading health systems, and other industry leaders have come together to launch the Argonaut Project. Their stated goal is to accelerate the adoption of FHIR, a standard for RESTful API in healthcare.
The Good News
First off, it’s great to see a support for these standards from such a diverse set of players. Past attempts at this type of work have been in proprietary silos pushed by EMR vendors (Open.Epic, athenaMDP, etc.) or by a health system’s innovation team (Cleveland Clinic’s Solutions Center and CDHI at UCSF for example.) Having a coalition improves the chances that these standards will be useful and truly interoperable across systems and vendors.
This continues to push all of healthcare forward as we think about the opportunity for modern applications built in the cloud to interact with classic healthcare IT infrastructures. Historically, one of the biggest road blocks to progress is resistance from health systems, as they see web-based transmission of protected health information as risky. The Argonaut Project sends a message that the future is coming, healthcare should welcome it.
What to Watch For
We’re looking for signs of real adoption. As with anything in healthcare, changes of this size can be painfully slow. For instance, most of the major EMR vendors don’t have clear incentives to play along. Will the walk match the talk? In the past we’ve seen many EMR vendors perceive the next generation of applications as potential competitors and are, therefore, slow to open up.
There are calls that adoption for these standards will only occur if mandated by the government and there have been talks of including provisions in MU3. As we saw with stage 1 and 2, we can expect this to take some time to kick into gear as EMR vendors scramble to meet the usually strict guidelines.
Additionally, health systems have a lot on their plates from a technical and operational standpoint. The implementation of FHIR within the IT department is not turnkey and therefore it’s something that gets prioritized on the ever-growing project list, practical adoption will be slow. We forecast a rollout starting at the end of 2015 through 2019.
Redox on FHIR
The Argonaut Project was formed because there is currently significant demand for tools that make it easier for healthcare data to flow to and from the cloud. There are thousands of applications and health systems that are struggling to find easy and safe ways to share their data. Redox can meet that demand both as it stands now, and in the future world on FHIR. We’re excited to be a part of the national conversation and contribute to it as it unfolds. We see a huge opportunity to truly transform the way health and healthcare are delivered in the US.
If you’re interested in learning more about what we do, and how we plan to work with FHIR, please contact us.