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HL7 to Establish FHIR Foundation

February 23, 2016
by David Raths
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Nonprofit entity to focus on implementation, education

The standards development organization HL7 is working to set up a separate nonprofit group called the FHIR Foundation to accelerate and support the worldwide implementation of HL7 FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), which leverages the latest web standards and application programming interfaces. 

Proponents of FHIR (pronounced “fire”) continue to fine-tune a specification that could ease health IT bottlenecks and offer more granular data access.

As FHIR gains more support from EHR vendors and providers working on modular apps, the FHIR Foundation (and the website FHIR.org) will support the development of:

• Tools and related products to accelerate development and implementation of FHIR-based protocols;

• Industry programs, conferences and education to foster industry awareness of FHIR’s capabilities and encourage implementation.

“The purpose of FHIR.org is to provide a cohesive, integrated environment for developers and implementers of FHIR-based solutions,” said Charles Jaffe, M.D., HL7’s CEO. “The funding will all go toward implementation. HL7 will maintain the FHIR development process. If there had been a FHIR Foundation in fall 2014, the Argonaut Project would have been its first member.”

The HL7 Argonaut Project is working on implementation guides for 16 FHIR resources aligned with the meaningful use common data set. The goal is to have those ready by early summer of this year. “We have now devoted resources and dollars into meeting that timeline,” Jaffe said. “We are very optimistic that it will be achieved on time and under budget. We are enabling a small team of domain experts to devote their time to publishing artifacts such as implementation guides for the timelines of the rollout. Part of that is having a sufficiently robust test environment. And we have development projects from Aegis and Mitre to make that happen.”

Over the next year, the FHIR Foundation and FHIR.org will not only demonstrate the utility of FHIR, but provide a convenient environment to test and leverage solutions, Jaffe added. “As we have a greater focus on precision medicine, we have people in genomics research eager to standardize around FHIR. The clinical need is there. The FDA and CMS are partners working to take advantage of what FHIR can do.”

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