For years, the ability of health information networks (HINs), like Hixny, to gain serious traction in the health information market has been hindered by the lack of consistency in electronic health record (EHR) systems. While some EHR systems allowed for the integration of HIN data, more often than not if users wanted the more complete and usable data available through an HIN, they were forced to leave the EHR, log into the HIN and perform another search for patient records.
But users didn’t like their workflow being interrupted, and with EHRs unwilling to help, HINs were left trying to convince users why the added time was worth it instead of focusing their energy and resources on other improvements.
It appears the days of EHRs standing in the way of access to complete data are almost behind us, though. As SMART on FHIR technology becomes more widely adopted by EHR vendors—largely because of FHIR specifications being strongly promoted by the federal government to solve the problem of interoperability nationwide—HINs can take advantage of the shift and start focusing on improved data flow.
For example, at Hixny we’ve developed a new patient record snapshot that uses the SMART on FHIR technology to ensure providers see the same patient information through their EHR that they would through our online provider portal. No more logging into Hixny’s provider portal. No more searching for patients. Just a click inside the EHR and the patient record is presented in the way providers have told us they prefer.
As a tool, SMART on FHIR helps standardize data presentation across user interfaces. This allows us—and I’m speaking as an industry here, not just an individual organization—to address user feedback that until now, we were largely unable to do because we didn’t have control over the user experience through the EHRs. This is the perfect opportunity for EHRs and HINs to start working together to build solutions that not only meet the needs of users but exceed their expectations.
What I see as the largest benefit to SMART on FHIR technology, though, is the ability to maintain the necessary, stringent security over data shared through HINs—across all viewing environments. Ultimately, the technology is a better approach than traditional single sign on integrations. Compared to traditional methods of integration, SMART on FHIR offers increased control over the user experience at a significantly lower cost to implement without sacrificing security, ease of use or upgradability.
Right now, and for the foreseeable future, this is the technological platform we can expect to see adopted and built upon across the health information field. As HINs, we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of the opportunities SMART on FHIR provides to support improvements in healthcare. As an organization, we look forward to continuing to contribute to the national discourse around making health information predictably usable across systems.