HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability (FHIR) accelerators aim to advance health data exchange for various use cases, like genomic data sharing.
Since its release in 2013, HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability (FHIR) has been rapidly adopted as an open-source data standard for health data exchange.
Industry stakeholders leverage FHIR in mobile applications, cloud communications, EHR data sharing, and server communications to deliver real-time access to health information.
In 2019, HL7 launched the FHIR accelerator program to support emerging FHIR use cases and assist communities in creating and adopting FHIR implementation guides. HL7 provides basic team collaboration infrastructure tools and other support services for FHIR accelerator groups, ranging from self-service guidelines to contracted project management.
While FHIR accelerators operate within HL7, they are separate from HL7 International initiatives. Notably, membership in HL7 International does not include membership within any of the FHIR Accelerators, and vice versa.
The HL7 Argonaut Project and the HL7 Da Vinci Project served as models for the HL7 accelerator program and they continue to serve as accelerators. In the following article, EHRIntelligence breaks down these and other HL7 FHIR accelerators.
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ONC founded the HL7 FHIR at Scale Taskforce (FAST) initiative in 2017 to accelerate the scalability of FHIR across the industry by defining a standard set of infrastructure solutions for prior authorization and authentication workflows, patient matching, and identity management.
The public-private partnership transitioned FAST to an official HL7 FHIR Accelerator in May 2022 to continue its FHIR scalability efforts.
While groups such as the Da Vinci Project develop health IT data standards to support specific use cases, FAST focuses on scalability approaches that healthcare organizations can leverage across use cases to simplify the deployment of FHIR in disparate environments.
The Gravity Project seeks to identify coded data elements and value sets to represent social determinants of health (SDOH) data in EHRs. The project includes three specific social risk domains: food insecurity, housing instability and quality, and transportation access.
The Gravity Project worked with healthcare stakeholders such as health IT vendors, payers, providers, philanthropies, and federal and state government officials to develop a foundational elements framework for SDOH information exchange.
During an ONC webinar in March 2022, Greg Bloom, strategic advisor on community resources and engagement for the Gravity Project, noted that the framework is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it’s a set of conceptual guidelines that can help shape initiatives’ planning, design, implementation, and evaluation to facilitate social information exchange.
“These foundational elements include community readiness and stewardship, mission and purpose, values and principles, policy, legal, finance, measurement and evaluation, implementation services, technical infrastructure, and data standards, user support and learning networks, and governance,” Bloom said.
Helios is an alliance of government, private sector, and philanthropic stakeholders focused on supporting the widespread implementation of FHIR APIs and applications to advance public health.
The accelerator intends to streamline data sharing across all levels of public health using the FHIR standard. Areas of focus include scalable data exchange for high-priority, cross-cutting use cases such as prenatal, birth, and postpartum outcomes.
“FHIR accelerators have had great success in engaging implementers as early as possible to help identify and overcome longstanding barriers to interoperability,” Micky Tripathi, PhD, MPP, ONC’s national coordinator for health IT, said in a press release when HL7 first launched Helios.
“The Helios alliance is a market-based implementation collaboration that will help to ensure FHIR development is coordinated and focused on real-world public health needs,” Tripathi said.
The Vulcan FHIR accelerator, launched in August 2020, aims to support interoperability for clinical research. The group comprises representatives from government agencies, academia, health IT vendors, standards development organizations, patients, and industry consortiums.
Project Vulcan aims to bridge the gap between clinical care and clinical research to improve patient lives, decrease costs, and boost efficiency
The organization intends Vulcan to cultivate better collaboration between leaders in translational and clinical research fields and to define an international set of standards.
“Improving data sharing can bring significant benefits to medical research, which is often a time-intensive and costly process that unnecessarily delays progress in discovering treatments for medical conditions because researchers are unable to share critical information,” Charles Jaffe, CEO of HL7 International, said in a statement at the time of Vulcan’s launch.
As interoperability use cases continue to emerge, the HL7 FHIR accelerator program is set to support the standardized adoption of FHIR across the care continuum.