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Thoughts about the HL7® FHIR® Connectathon

September 21, 2016

Corey Spears, Director of Healthcare Interoperability Standards

I had the pleasure of attending the latest HL7® FHIR® Connectathon this last weekend. This event is where system developers all team up and work with the FHIR specification, testing new and exciting aspects of the standard with the goal of making improvements to both their systems and the standard. We also were able to test new use cases and capabilities that are not yet addressed in the standard in order to see if and how they should be included.

This was my second such Connectathon. My first experience at the FHIR® Connectathon was quite exhilarating. At the time, I had been with Infor for less than a month. I hadn’t received any formal training for Cloverleaf and in fact I was introduced to using it only two weeks beforehand. On my own, with about two hours of informal instruction, I was able to successfully create and save several FHIR artifacts (which, in FHIR speak, are called resources and include things like patients, practitioners, medications, observations, and so on) to a number of different FHIR servers from other developers. I was even able to configure Cloverleaf to perform the relatively complex transformation of converting a C-CDA® document into a new FHIR® document composition resource.

As part of my efforts at that Connectathon, I was also able to test a new capability to FHIR that was proposed and lead by our partners from Germany, Health-Comm GmbH. The proposal is called conditional references and it will greatly improve the ability to integrate systems that do not all natively speak FHIR®. With the success of our tests at the Connectathon along with those of Health-Comm, this feature is now an official part of the standard.

This time at the FHIR® Connectathon, I was accompanied by a couple of our great developers and the event was no less intriguing. In addition to further maturing our FHIR® supporting functionality through testing with other vendors, we had a chance to try out a new use case for us, Terminology Services. With this use case we were able to perform dynamic terminology code lookup, translation, and validation with leading terminology service providers like Apelon®, Wolters Kluwer®, and even the National Library of Medicine.

OK, now that I’ve geeked out on you, let me bring myself back down to earth and tell you what this actually means for Cloverleaf customers. It means that Cloverleaf provides a platform with the power and capability to take something like a C-CDA document, a format that pretty much all EHR systems can export today, and transform it into many different FHIR® resources that can be used for any number of purposes. If you want to extract certain data elements, like diagnoses, to store in a FHIR® server for analytics, Cloverleaf can enable that. If you want to extract the patient demographics and save it in one FHIR® system and extract the medications and make them available to a FHIR® enabled patient medication reminder app, Cloverleaf can enable that too.

This is one small example of how Infor is on the forefront of FHIR®, not only for use in our products, but also in design and development of the specification itself. We are committed to the effort of ensuring that FHIR will meet the critical and varied needs of our customers, and our participation in the specification development is but one way we are doing this.

Infor had a great and successful experience at these HL7® FHIR® Connectathons, but our engagement and dedication to FHIR® does not end there. We continue to be active participants in several of the HL7® FHIR® task groups and are pressing onward to build our product support for FHIR. The Future is on FHIR® and Infor is there to help you harness it.
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