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Regenstrief Informatics Center to Pilot FHIR within Indiana Health Information Exchange

August 18, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Center for Biomedical Informatics is piloting the use of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard to merge data from individual electronic medical records (EMRs) with those stored in the Indiana Network for Patient Care (INPC), Indiana's common framework for health information exchange (HIE).

As officials from the center noted in a press release, clinician-informaticians of the Regenstrief Institute feel that a patient’s complete medical record is rarely available to the caregiver at the point of care, in the emergency room, for example. As such, not having complete health information available often results in decreased quality of care and can endanger patients. So the idea, they said, is to effectively assemble a patient's medical history, lab test results, medications and other information stored in various EMRs installed at different healthcare organizations.

“What we are working on is a first and could have a huge impact on patients whose health information is distributed across multiple electronic systems—probably the vast majority of the people in the United States," Titus Schleyer, D.M.D., Ph.D., a Regenstrief Institute investigator and Clem McDonald Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a statement. "Using FHIR, we can combine information about a specific patient stored in systems developed by different vendors and installed in different healthcare institutions. This brings us much closer to a 'lingua franca' for health information, so clinicians finally have complete information available about their patients.”

Dr. Schleyer continued, “For example, imagine that you as a patient can use an ‘app’ on your smartphone to reconcile the multiple lists of medications maintained by several care providers into one authoritative, current list. And then, you can bring that list to your colonoscopy screening appointment for review by your physician prior to the procedure. That is huge, which is why the federal government is also focusing attention on helping patients do that. FHIR helps us create a secure, complete, accessible, and useful set of health information needed by clinicians and patients."

Regenstrief's Center for Biomedical Informatics is focused on the mission "better health through informatics." To date, the center has developed and advanced one of the nation's first electronic medical record systems, one of the country's first computerized provider order entry systems, and a health information exchange which has made Indiana the most health-wired state in the country and a national model for health information exchange, Regenstrief officials attest.

"FHIR enables an ecosystem of innovative apps, much like the iPhone and Android platforms did," noted John Halamka, M.D., chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "The difference is that FHIR is truly cross-platform. It doesn't care what EHR or system is underneath it."

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