Whether you work in a healthcare organization, a hospital, a medical center or are a member in a physician group, you most likely are working with an EHR. While there is no questions there have been many benefits to becoming computerized, the inability to customize and personalize the software has been a major hurdle. You want to be efficient, save money for your organization, and deliver optimal care for your patients.
So you get an idea about what you want to change in the current organization’s workflows to make them better and decide to act. First you call your EHR vendor, and you quickly realize how expensive even a small change can actually be. Then you try discussing the changes with your own IT department and get the classic response that they are overwhelmed with ten other more urgent issues and they are not going to be of any help. So now what?
Well you are not a quitter and you don’t want to give up. You can’t start from scratch. That would take too long and is just downright impossible. To complete a successful healthcare IT project you need a good foundation to start with. In the world of computer software you need to have a solid backend, a server with the standardized storage for clinical information and an ability to build everything on top of it. Well there are only a few choices out there to work with. The current medical standards providing with models for storing medical data are: HL7 v3, HL7 FHIR, OpenEHR.
But there really is only one true choice — HL7 FHIR — Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources. It is the most promising, modern and developer friendly among all of them. If you haven’t heard of FHIR, a great start about it can be found in this article in Forbes.
HL7 FHIR is distributed under a licence similar to the Creative Common license for software. You can do pretty much everything you wish with it, as long as you give credit to the HL7 organization. Plenty of free open source solutions exist for this emerging standard. One to look at is the fhirbase — a relational storage for HL7 FHIR resources. Fhirbase is based on the open and free relational database Postgresql and is developed in close cooperation with core Postgresql developers. Fhirbase combines the main advantages of relational databases: a powerful query language SQL, transactions and integrity with easy to use document database API. It is distributed under the open source MIT license and you can use it without restrictions in all commercial and noncommercial software products.
Congratulations, you’ve got a great storage for your clinical data for free. But can you integrate it with other software your organization use e.g. EHR? FHIR is an interoperability standard. It has well documented mapping to other medical standards such as HL7 v2, HL7 v3 or CDA. So that means you can get clinical data from other vendors’ software into the FHIR storage with minimal efforts.
A standardized storage integrated with other software within your healthcare organization is awesome, but can it get even better? I’m here to tell you that it can! Yes you’ve got a solid backend, but you can get help with your frontend as well. If you are going to build a web application which nowadays is the way to go, you can use a free frontend API for working with the server — FHIR.js and a set of widgets for creating nice interfaces — formstamp. Don’t spend time on tools for building software solutions. Get the best tools for free! Instead concentrate on your workflows and business cases you want to implement.
And for the icing on the cake I have to mention the team which develops these solutions. These are guys who are available all the time, receptive and always seem to be right around the corner ready to help. This unique team is Health Samurai. They are fanatics about producing quality and working hard to make their solutions better and better. They have a tremendous amount of experience building health IT products. One great example is that they developed ONC certified cloud based EHR for Choice Hospital Systems. They do all their commercial development around the suite of FHIR solutions. They are ready to help your team from A to Z. All you have to do is just give them a call or send an email.