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Halamka: Expect Argonaut Deliverables by May

February 19, 2015
by David Raths
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John Halamka

During a Feb. 19 webinar presentation sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, John Halamka, M.D., Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and co-Chair of the national HIT Standards Committee, gave an update on the Argonaut Project, which is seeking to accelerate HL7’s work on open application programming interfaces (APIs) and FHIR (Fast Health Interoperability Resources) profiles. 

Halamka said the initial scope of work, limited to a few use cases and a security implementation guide, would be completed for inclusion in the May 2015 HL7 FHIR Draft Standard for Trial Use revision 2 ballot.

The Argonaut Project involves a set of FHIR Resources and accompanying profiles that enable query/response of the discrete data elements contained in the Meaningful Use Common Data Set.  It also includes a resource and profile that enables query/response of documents, specifically, transition of care and patient summary CCDAs.  

Halamka said Dixie Baker, a senior partner with Martin, Blanck & Associates and a member of the Health Information Technology Standards Committee, is working with the SMART Project’s Joshua Mandel, M.D., on a Security Implementation Guide based on the SMART OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect profiles. Halamka called Baker “a really a remarkable woman, who understands security, usability and the reality of implementation.”

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.

“The focus is laser-like,” Halamka said. “We said let’s just do two profiles and an implementation guide for Oath2 and use the REST protocol to send data. “This embraces the simple standards used in other industries.” Approximately 50 organizations will be involved in pilot projects, he added.

Providing a little background color, he said the idea came about at a Greek restaurant called Agora in Washington, D.C., following a joint HIT Policy/Standards Committee meeting a few months ago. “We wanted to accelerate API activities in 2015,” he said. “We thought if we formed a guiding coalition, we could go on a voyage and slay monsters.”

Halamka also said regulators would have to be careful not to force FHIR or any other standards that are not mature into regulations such as Stage 3 of meaningful use. “We think an ecosystem of apps with read-write capability is going to be our best hope for interoperability in the future. But this is edgy stuff, so we have to learn what works and what doesn't.”

Announced at the opening of HL7’s Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 4, 2014, the Argonaut Project is comprised of many leading vendors and provider organizations, including:

• 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