An article written by Sr. Product Manager Rob Brull about HL7 FHIR, the new health data standard that promises to fundamentally change how applications exchange health data, was published Saturday on The Health Care Blog. THCB is a popular health care opinion blog that highlights topics aimed at improving the industry as a whole — from how care is delivered by caregivers to the challenges presented by the government's Meaningful Use program.

In the article, titled FHIR: Technology and Governance, Rob discusses why the new standard is so popular in health IT circles and why it is a key advancement in the industry's quest for real interoperability, including the use of mobile devices and the inclusion of patient-generated health data in EHR systems. However, the intent of Rob's post is to highlight the need for governance in order for FHIR to avoid the same adoption issues that have plagued Direct Project. 

Data governance provides quality control for managing, using, monitoring, maintaining, and protecting PHI. It provides accountabilities for information-related processes, executed according to agreed-upon models that define what actions can be taken with the data. From Rob's post:

So if HL7 only establishes the infrastructure for privacy and security, who is left to figure out the details of FHIR governance?

…One organization that is trying help with governance is IHE International with their IUA (Internet User Authorization) profile that manages the tokens used for authorization of access to RESTful web services. If we want FHIR to be successful, then we need to put as much energy and enthusiasm around governance initiatives, such as IUA, as we do the FHIR technology itself.

Make no mistake, I’m not asking the industry to pump the brakes on FHIR progression and get bogged down in the same committee-driven bureaucracy that has weighed down Direct (e.g., DirectTrust). It would be wise, however, to involve IHE or some other governing body, to streamline, safeguard, and motivate provider organizations to utilize FHIR. Using these three principles may provide a better blend to achieve FHIR- inspired health interoperability.

Read Rob's The Health Care Blog FHIR post

To learn more about FHIR, check out Rob's post for our blog: The Interoperability Paradigms of HL7 FHIR.

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