2017 Emerges as Pivotal Year for FHIR Interoperability Standard

Greg Slabodkin | Health Data Management | January 5, 2017

Health Level Seven International’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) application programming interface is moving closer to becoming a mature standard, with the “normative” version slated for release sometime in 2017. Standards are widely perceived as providing the greatest potential for achieving national health IT interoperability in the near future. In particular, FHIR is seen by industry stakeholders as a promising solution to the complex interoperability challenges that are confronting healthcare organizations.

Chuck JaffeeStandard for Trial Use (STU) 3 is the next release of the FHIR specification before it reaches a normative level, which is defined by HL7 as content that has been subject to review/production implementation in a wide variety of environments, has been “frozen” and is considered to be stable. “Release 3 is a Standard for Trial Use, and it contains many artifacts which will be frozen and will be part of the normative release,” says HL7 CEO Chuck Jaffe, MD. “The normative release formally will be Release 4. We expect that in 2017, although there is no promised date. We talk to ANSI all the time. It’s just that we’re not committed to a month yet, but 2017 is our expectation.”

While implementation of STU 3 is occurring, development will be progressing on the normative release that is expected later this year. According to HL7, only content that has been successfully implemented in a wide variety of implementation environments with minimal divergence from the STU specification will be candidates for the normative version of FHIR. Conceivably, it is at this normative point that FHIR will be stable enough for electronic health record vendors to incorporate it into their product offerings...