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App Demonstration at Connected Health Conference Shows Promise of FHIR

December 15, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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At the annual Connected Health Conference this week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in partnership with leaders in the private sector, as well as patient and consumer advocates, coordinated a live demonstration of apps that import health IT vendor data to allow individuals to access a consolidated list of their medications from a variety of sources in one place.

According to officials, the demonstration illustrated the promise of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)—a set of private sector technical standards developed with the strong support of ONC. The live demonstration at National Harbor in Maryland illustrated how data from Allscripts, CareEvolution, Cerner Corporation, and Epic—which represent the largest electronic health record (EHR) vendors in the country—could be transmitted to user-friendly, third-party applications, created by CareEvolution, Medisafe and RxRevu using FHIR.

“We are incredibly encouraged by the advances our private sector partners have made to unlock data and empower individuals when it comes to accessing their medication information,” said Vindell Washington, M.D. National Coordinator for Health IT. “This is just the latest example of the health IT progress and infrastructure that has resulted from public-private collaboration over the past eight years to improve the health and care of individuals and communities.”

Federal officials attest that this effort builds on Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell’s announcement in February at HIMSS16 that companies that provide 90 percent of electronic health records used by hospitals nationwide, as well as the largest health care systems in the country, and key professional associations and stakeholder groups agreed to implement three core commitments toward advancing interoperability. One of those commitments was to help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.

As part of an ongoing dialogue with those who have made this pledge, ONC worked with stakeholders to identify initiatives already underway in the private sector for which sustained attention from ONC could help spur progress. Through these discussions, accelerating consumer access to interoperable medication lists that pulled data from multiple sources became a core priority, as it could be a useful and achievable example of progress on interoperability. Accordingly, ONC said that it has worked with many organizations who have pledged to the interoperability commitment—as well as other key stakeholders—to discuss ways to advance this goal to better serve individuals.

What’s more, during today’s conference, Washington also announced the Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge, which builds on ONC’s efforts to update the Model Privacy Notice (MPN) for the modern mobile health landscape. The Challenge calls on developers, designers, health data privacy experts, and any other innovators to use the content from the MPN template - PDF to create an online tool that can generate a user-friendly snapshot of a product’s privacy practices. This simple online generator would support app and other health technology developers as they customize a privacy notice for product users that is compelling and easy to understand.

The Privacy Policy Snapshot Challenge opened on December 13, 2016, and the deadline for submission is April 10, 2017. ONC will award a total of $35,000 in prizes through this Challenge and winners are expected to be announced in mid-2017. Submissions can be entered at Challenge.gov.

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