Connecting and Accelerating a FHIR App Ecosystem
Increased adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and other health information technology (health IT) has generated significant amounts of computable, electronic health information. However, technology that can pull information from different sources and present it in a user-friendly way is limited.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is investing in a three-part strategy that calls on innovators to develop market-ready software applications (apps) for consumers and healthcare providers in an effort to improve the health and care of the country. The strategy seeks to leverage the Health Level 7 – Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) standard and growing interest in an industry-wide approach to open, standardized application programming interfaces (APIs).
ONC is committed to encouraging community-driven, user-focused innovation. Such efforts pave the way for future innovations in health IT that can help build a stronger health IT ecosystem where consumers and providers can get the health information they need when and where they need it most. This ability to securely access and direct health information where and when it is needed most is a foundational component of an interoperable learning health system.
The strategy consists of two app challenges and a competitive funding opportunity with awards totaling $625,000:
- Help Consumers Get and Use their Health Information. In this first challenge contest, prizes will be awarded to consumer-facing apps that use open, standardized APIs to help consumers aggregate their health information in one place that is under their control. Prizes will total up to $175,000.
- Improve User-Experience (UX) and Utility for Providers. In this second challenge contest, prizes will be awarded to apps that use open, standardized APIs to positively impact providers’ experience with EHRs by making clinical workflows more intuitive, specific to clinical specialty, and actionable. Prizes will total up to $175,000.
- Coordinate Open Information About EHR App Solutions. This third coordinated action aims to help providers choose the technology that best fits their needs and workflow. ONC has published a $275,000 funding opportunity announcement that will support the development of an app discovery site that makes it easier for developers to publish their apps and for providers to discover and compare them.
There are a number of ways you can participate in this exciting initiative. Visit each of the links above for more details on each opportunity. Additionally, below are some HHS resources available to innovators:
- OCR: New guidance on patient access to their own health information
- OCR and ONC: New provider-centric fact sheets about when two providers are allowed to share health information
- OCR: Guidance on when app developers are required to be provider’s business associates under HIPAA
- ONC: Model Privacy Notice—a voluntary, openly available resource designed to help developers provide transparent notice to consumers about what happens to their health information
- ONC: 2015 Edition Health IT Certification final rule includes API-related certification criteria
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