January 31, 2020

What Is FHIR? Overview of FHIR APIs

Digital Transformation
API Lifecycle Management

FHIR is accelerating the digital transformation in the healthcare industry. In this blog, we break down:

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What Is the FHIR Standard?

FHIR is a standard for exchanging healthcare information. FHIR stands for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources. The FHIR standard describes how to use resources and an API to exchange electronic healthcare records.

This healthcare standard is based on emerging industry approaches. It stems from over 20 years of lessons learned around requirements, successes, and challenges gained through defining and implementing other HL7 standards.

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What Are FHIR APIs?

FHIR creates a common set of APIs so healthcare platforms can communicate and share data across facilities in a manner that each platform can understand. This is similar to how open banking and PSD2 create sharing within the financial services industry.

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What Is FHIR Comprised Of?

The basic building block of FHIR is a resource. All exchangeable content is defined as a resource. The philosophy then is to build a base set of resources that can be used by themselves. When combined, these resources satisfy the majority of common use cases.

Who Is Involved With FHIR?

The healthcare industry has embraced an open source philosophy to accelerate adoption of these standards. HL7 has made the FHIR specification freely available to the community with no restrictions.

While the community is large and distinguished — members include the Mayo Clinic, McKesson, athenahealth, Partners Healthcare Systems, and more — you do not have to be a member to use it.

This ensures:

  • Broader adoption.
  • Increased interoperability.
  • Faster and easier implementation.

Foundations For a Digital Ecosystem

Open banking initiatives have led to an open X approach across industries — including healthcare. But what does this mean for healthcare APIs and applications? Find out in the white paper.

📕 Get the White Paper

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Why Is FHIR Important?

FHIR is important because it acts as a connector to bridge the gaps between all parties that need access to patient data. With data seamlessly shared through open APIs, patient records can be viewed on the fly so the right decisions are made.

Four FHIR Principles

As defined by HL7, the foundation of what is FHIR is grounded by the following principles:

  1. Prioritize implementation.
  2. Provide a flexible framework for interoperability.
  3. Keep complexity where it belongs.
  4. Support but doesn't mandate tight specifications.

These guiding principles are put in place to help the standard be strong and resilient to various technological advances that occur over time. The FHIR standard allows for different architectural approaches. You can use these to gather information from a modern or legacy system.

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How the Healthcare Industry Can Successfully Leverage FHIR

The healthcare industry, like many other industries, is embracing a digital transformation strategy. The digitization of health records has made patient information and care instruction more available, discoverable, and understandable. FHIR has made this process easier and more widespread.

Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare is serious. It has life-saving and life-sustaining implications. The transfer of data from facility to facility, and device to device, ultimately can factor into a patient’s health outcome.

FHIR also resulted from the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) mandate. To comply, you need to rethink how to interoperate with your partners and how to handle resources internally. You need to balance innovation and differentiation. At the same time, you need to keep healthcare costs down for patients and insurance carriers.

The result?

The healthcare industry is an example of how to open up and collaborate in order to compete on a whole new level. Healthcare companies can focus on technology and innovations that provide for better healthcare outcomes. And they can spend less time on proprietary integrations and data transformations for hospital technical operations.

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How to Manage FHIR APIs With Akana

To be successful in the healthcare industry, you need the right platform to manage your FHIR APIs — like the Akana API platform.

Akana provides the best way to accelerate digital transformation in the healthcare industry. It provides a comprehensive digital solution focusing on delivery, security, and interoperability. It frees the data locked in EMRs and backend systems. That means you can provide a unified experience for patients, hospitals, specialist, labs, and many others who participate in a patient’s treatment.

How a Large Healthcare Company Uses Akana

A large midwest heathcare provider succeeded in a digital transformation by using Akana. Plus, they delivered an HL7 FHIR server implementation based on the open source HAPI FHIR library with the help of Akana's professional API management services team. 

Hear from the large healthcare company. Read the case study >> 

Get Started

Get started with Akana today. You can request a free 6-month trial to see how Akana will help you manage your APIs and succeed in a digital transformation. Or check out a demo first and see how Akana works. 

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