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‘Argonaut Project’ to Build on JASON Task Force’s FHIR Recommendations

December 4, 2014
by David Raths
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Leading EHR vendors, health systems providing support
HL7 CEO Charles Jaffe

Health Level Seven International (HL7) has launched a new initiative to accelerate the development and adoption of HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), with support from 11 organizations, including EHR vendors Epic and Cerner and health systems Mayo Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare.

Keeping with the Greek mythology theme of the original JASON report, the “Argonaut Project” will address the recommendations of the JASON Task Force, a joint task force of the HIT Standards and Policy Committees. The task force urged the Office of the National Coordinator to focus on an approach involving public application programming interfaces (APIs) and FHIR.

HL7’s FHIR is a standards framework that leverages web standards and applies a tight focus on implementation. FHIR is a RESTful API, which is an approach based on modern internet conventions and widely used in other industries. FHIR represents a significant advance in accessing and delivering data while offering enormous flexibility. For patients and providers, its versatility can be applied to mobile devices, web-based applications, cloud communications, and EHR data-sharing using modular components.

JASON Task Force co-chair Micky Tripathi, the chief executive officer and president of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, has committed his organization to serve as the project manager for the initiative.

Announced at the opening of HL7’s Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, the Argonaut Project is comprised of the following organizations:

• athenahealth

• Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

• Cerner

• Epic

• Intermountain Healthcare

• Mayo Clinic

• Meditech

• McKesson

• Partners HealthCare System

• SMART at the Boston Children’s Hospital Informatics Program

• The Advisory Board Company

“These organizations have gotten together to drive FHIR development. They are providing HL7 with financial resources and agreeing to adopt FHIR,” said HL7 CEO Charles Jaffe, M.D., Ph.D., in a recent interview with Healthcare Informatics.  This effort will provide both the resources and the counsel to implement the JASON Task Force report recommendations, he added. “The funding is earmarked for very specific FHIR objectives revolving around making FHIR implementable in the very near term.” This is about making FHIR work for consolidated CDA, security and authorization, work with open standards tools now available, and providing adequate implementation guidance so that the community of developers can make FHIR solutions, Jaffe said.

“We would like to ballot a draft standard of FHIR in May 2015. HL7 would like to have meaningful use Stage 3 cite FHIR by reference, he said. “We believe, however, the marketplace will dictate FHIR’s usefulness. The utility of FHIR will speak for itself, and we believe FHIR will be adopted prior to meaningful use stage 3 regulations.”

“We are not creating a new organization to do this work; instead we are all unifying around HL7 as an ANSI-accredited standards development organization to deliver what we all need, said HIT Standards Committee co-chair and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center John Halamka, M.D., in a prepared statement.