Regenstrief Institute Hopes to Create Comprehensive Patient Profile by Leveraging FHIR

Mark Taylor | MedCity News | August 23, 2016

MedCity News has partnered with BioCrossroads to provide coverage focused on Indiana’s next generation of growth and innovation in life sciences.

In the quest for interoperability, Regenstrief Institute, the Indianapolis-based healthcare research and informatics organization, is piloting a heavily touted method of compiling healthcare information electronically. The not-for-profit Regenstrief’s Center for Medical Biomedical Informatics has developed a platform for merging data from different electronic health records systems to produce a comprehensive patient health profile for hospitals and physicians. Regenstrief is leaning on the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) — pronounced “fire” — standard to merge individual EHRs with existing records in in the Indiana Network for Patient Care (INPC), the state’s health information exchange.

Dr. Titus Schleyer“Using FHIR, we can combine information about a specific patient stored in systems developed by different vendors and installed in different healthcare institutions,” explained Dr. Titus Schleyer, a Regenstrief research scientist and professor of biomedical informatics at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. “FHIR helps us create a secure, complete, accessible and useful set of health information needed by clinicians and patients. This brings us much closer to a ‘lingua franca’ for health information, so clinicians finally have complete information available about their patients.”

Schleyer said the lack of interoperability between individual EHR systems has plagued efforts to link patient health records from multiple providers. “We’ve tried to solve it on the back end by trying to make these various systems talk with each other,” he said. But doing that, requires the creation of many connections that can essentially connects every system with every other system, whereas FHIR solves that problem in a different way. What FHIR does is allow health systems to share data only with authorized users. “There are strong security and privacy procedures,” Schleyer said. “It is not a solution to all interoperability problems, but it brings a very powerful weapon to use in a way we haven’t been able to until now. And it will make it much easier and cheaper to access healthcare information from other systems”...