FAST Continues FHIR Scalability Work as a New HL7 FHIR Accelerator

Alex Kontur and Stephen Konya | June 23, 2022

The HL7® Fast Heathcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR ®) at Scale Taskforce (FAST) initiative has officially left the nest and taken flight!  In 2017, ONC spearheaded the FHIR at Scale Taskforce, a public-private partnership with industry stakeholders, to accelerate the scalability of FHIR across the industry. Since its inception, FAST grew larger and shifted focus from identifying FHIR scalability challenges to proposing new solutions, including new standards development, so it made sense for FAST to find a new home. It did not have to fly far – FAST is now an official HL7® FHIR Accelerator. ONC is pleased to recognize this important milestone!

Transitioning to an HL7 FHIR Accelerator enables the FAST community of developers, implementers, and advocates to take greater ownership of the initiative and begin to turn FAST’s vision of a more dynamic FHIR-enabled ecosystem into a reality.

The FAST initiative has accomplished a lot over the years, providing a collaborative setting for identifying FHIR scalability challenges and proposing solutions to address them. With the diligence, foresight, and expertise of the FAST community, the FAST initiative developed advanced specifications addressing authorization and authentication workflows, patient matching and identity management, access to endpoints and other data from healthcare directories, and routing FHIR transactions through intermediaries. Each of these solutions aims to improve the scalability of FHIR and support efforts like the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) to deploy FHIR across health information networks.

ONC is excited about the growing adoption of the HL7 FHIR standard and implementation of FHIR-based application programming interfaces (APIs). In a recent Health Affairs blog post, National Coordinator Micky Tripathi articulated ONC’s vision for a healthcare ecosystem characterized by “APIs and apps as core drivers of enhanced access, functionality, and user experience in health care interoperability.” Health IT developers are rolling out standardized FHIR APIs based on new certification criteria established in ONC’s Cures Act Final Rule. And as we look to the future, the groundwork laid by ONC’s Cures Act Final Rule will pave the way for FHIR-based information exchange at national scale under TEFCA. Indeed, many FAST components are directly applicable to the TEFCA “Facilitated FHIR” exchange mode that will be launched in early 2023.

Many individuals and organizations have dedicated countless hours to FAST. Their contributions have been essential to the development of FAST standards and launch of the FAST FHIR Accelerator. To keep things rolling, ONC has joined the FAST FHIR Accelerator as a Founding Member, and we encourage other organizations to get involved however they can. There are many ways to participate in FAST, including attending public HL7 workgroup meetings, providing feedback on HL7 standards and implementation guides, and testing specifications at connectathons, and joining the FAST FHIR Accelerator. If you are interested in learning more about FAST, please visit the FAST website or email fast@hl7.org.

We hope you will join us as FAST embarks on the next phase of its journey!