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Get started with FHIR service – Azure Health Data Services

Interoperability is a significant challenge in the healthcare industry, and different organizations use various systems, protocols, and data formats to exchange healthcare information. To address this issue, in the 1980s, the HL/7 healthcare standard was introduced. As an evolution of HL/7, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) was introduced to provide a modern, open standard for exchanging healthcare information.

In this fascinating conversation with Azure MVP’s Martin Abbott and Lex Hegt they delve into the intricacies of FHIR and its implementation within the Azure ecosystem.

What is FHIR?

FHIR is an open standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically, using modern web technologies. It leverages the latest web standards, such as HTTP, REST, and OAuth, and provides a flexible and extensible framework for building healthcare applications and services.

FHIR provides a set of resources, or data elements, that are commonly used in healthcare, such as patients, medications, observations, and procedures. These resources can be used to build applications, services, and systems that can exchange healthcare information in a standardized way. FHIR is designed to be easy to implement and use, and it is based on existing web standards, making it a popular choice for healthcare organizations.

FHIR and Azure

Microsoft has implemented FHIR in Azure, its cloud computing platform. Azure FHIR is a fully-managed service that provides a turn-key solution for building and deploying FHIR servers, clients, and applications.

Azure FHIR is built on top of Azure API for FHIR, which is an open-source implementation of the FHIR specification. Azure API for FHIR is designed to be highly scalable and secure, and it includes features such as data validation, audit logging, and access control.

One of the key benefits of using Azure FHIR is its integration with other Azure services, such as Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, and Azure Event Grid. These services can be used to build end-to-end healthcare integration solutions, such as patient data portals, clinical decision support systems, and healthcare analytics platforms.

FHIR Adoption in the Healthcare Industry

FHIR is gaining traction in the healthcare industry, as organizations look for ways to improve interoperability and data exchange. FHIR is being used to build a wide range of applications, from patient-facing mobile apps to enterprise-grade healthcare systems.

One of the key drivers of FHIR adoption is the 21st Century Cures Act, a US law that requires healthcare providers to implement open standards for exchanging electronic health information. FHIR is one of the standards that is being considered for this purpose.

Challenges and Limitations

Despite its benefits, FHIR is not without its challenges and limitations. One of the key challenges is the complexity of the healthcare industry, and the diverse range of systems, protocols, and data formats used by different organizations. FHIR is a flexible and extensible standard, but it can be challenging to implement and use in practice, especially in large, complex organizations.

Another challenge is the need for widespread adoption of FHIR across the healthcare industry. While FHIR is gaining traction, it is still a relatively new standard, and there is a need for more widespread adoption and standardization. This requires collaboration and cooperation between different healthcare organizations, as well as ongoing development and maintenance of the FHIR specification.

FHIR is a powerful tool for building interoperable healthcare systems, and it is gaining traction in the healthcare industry. Azure FHIR is a fully-managed service that provides a turn-key solution for building and deploying FHIR servers, clients, and applications, and it is well-integrated with other Azure services.

However, FHIR is not without its challenges and limitations, and there is a need for widespread adoption and standardization across the healthcare industry. Despite these challenges, FHIR is a promising standard that has the potential to further improve healthcare interoperability and data exchange.

If you’re considering Azure for your healthcare integration needs, it’s essential to carefully evaluate the capabilities of Azure FHIR, and consult with a trusted technology advisor or solutions provider. By working with experts in the field, you can ensure that you’re making the most of Azure FHIR, and building healthcare integration solutions that meet your specific needs.

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