SMART on FHIR: 5 things to know

Interoperability was a key theme of HIMSS15: how to achieve it, the importance of it, barriers blocking it from flourishing. Included in the interoperability discussions were mentions of SMART on FHIR, an open application programming interface that allows developers to create apps (and clinicians to select apps) that work with their EHR system, regardless of vendor.

Here are five things to know about SMART on FHIR.

1. The SMART project, Substitutable Medical Apps & Reusable Technology, was borne from an essay published in New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 by Isaac Kohane, MD, PhD, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Boston-based Harvard Medical School and director of Boston Children's Hospital Informatics Program, and Kenneth Mandl, MD, chair of biomedical informatics and population health at Boston Children's Hospital.

2. The project is under the ONC's Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Projects, which grants funding to research projects that accelerate the use and adoption of health IT. In 2010, the SMART project received a four-year, $15 million grant from the ONC to conduct its research.

3. The key focus of SMART is to develop a SMART platform architecture to achieve two major goals: develop a user interface to allow substitutability for medical apps based on shared basic components and create a set of services to enable efficient data capture, storage, retrieval and analytics. The overarching mission of SMART is to "create an ecosystem of substitutable apps that can run on any EHR system," according to its website. Substitutability is defined as the capability to seamlessly replace one app with another of similar functionality without requiring any re-engineering or technical expertise.

4. FHIR (pronounced like fire), Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, is a standards framework created by HL7, an organization that develops standards related to the exchange and sharing of electronic health data. FHIR solutions are built from modular components in such a way that any EHR system can read extensions in app coding for seamless implementations.

5. Blending the two together, SMART on FHIR is the SMART project's latest platform offering whose vision is to provide the resources for developers to build medical apps using "developer-friendly APIs" that integrate into any EHR system at the point of care allowing for "plug and play" usability.

More articles on interoperability:

How physicians feel about interoperability: 6 key survey findings
Epic to waive record sharing fee
'Overlying' software for interoperability trends at HIMSS

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