Wednesday, July 08 | Thought Leadership, Human Services, Interoperability, Netsmart in the Community

FHIR APIs Are Heating Up 

By Netsmart

Hannah feels stuck. Her idyllic life came to a screeching halt when her husband died suddenly in a car accident, leaving her to care for her three children alone. They never planned what to do if something happened to one of them, and while the pay-out from his life insurance helped support the family for a while, eventually it wasn’t enough. Hannah took a night-job to support her three kids, which inhibits her from spending time with her family. She relies heavily on her mother to care for her children while at work, as she is unable to afford childcare. Stretching paychecks isn’t enough, and some weeks Hannah needs to choose between buying food for her family, paying for her medications, and staying on top of rent payments. Hannah is struggling to stay positive after losing her husband, with every day feeling like an uphill battle.

Although Hannah’s story is only a fictional narration, is not an uncommon situation for many individuals. Often times, contributing factors in people’s lives directly affect their physical and mental health, which can be described as Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). It would be helpful for Hannah’s healthcare providers to know she lost her husband and is now struggling both financially and emotionally. She would benefit from the collection and sharing of SDoH data across the various spectrums of healthcare, which better positions providers to supply whole-person care. The sharing of SDoH-related data is a critical factor in coordinating care across the healthcare spectrum.

This initiative is currently being pursued by Netsmart and the health IT industry as a whole through the adoption of HL7 FHIR APIs. This interoperability standard is being designed, validated, and put to the test at events such as the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN) 2020 Interopathon. 

An Interopathon is a structured cross-vendor event where industry leaders come together to test, validate and critique health IT standards in a competitive setting with the goal of advancing interoperability.

The 2020 MiHIN Interopathon spanned the entire month of May, focusing on multiple accelerator FHIR implementation guides and approaches to the new interoperability regulations passed down by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). A series of weekly webinars featuring sponsors of the FHIR accelerators and keynote speakers throughout the industry culminated into the Interopathon competition spanning May 28-29. This was the Interoperability Institute’s first virtual Interopathon event, moved online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Netsmart enrolled in The Gravity Project’s SDoH FHIR accelerator track, joining the team “United Together.” Netsmart associates partnered with representatives from Altarum and MaxMD.

The Netsmart submission took first place at the 2020 Interopathon event, showcasing the collection and distribution of SDoH data across the healthcare continuum via HL7 FHIR.

Team United Together’s solution objective stated: “The integration of behavioral health, acute care, and community care in a streamlined means of communication with the common goal of screening and sharing SDoH data would drive more holistic outcomes for individuals and groups in both the health and non-health sectors.”

Team United Together built a multi-actor simulation of the collection, consent and sharing of individual SDoH data across a range of healthcare entities. The team’s submission demonstrated leveraging FHIR APIs across a suite of applications starting with the collection of SDoH information in the context of clinical encounters. The submission then showcased the sharing of that SDoH content and other relevant information with external data consumers for the purpose of coordinating services and support to address SDoH-related needs.

Judging criterium for all submissions were weighted on the solution’s ability to improve interoperability, innovation and creativity, technical difficulty with the use of FHIR APIs, and overall alignment with the accelerator goals. The final grade for the submission took first place across all teams and track participants at the InterOpathon event.

Overall, the role of SDoH-integrated care coordination better positions providers to drive whole-person care while removing communication barriers and promoting collaboration throughout social and healthcare communities. By leveraging and helping shape these cutting-edge interoperable technologies, Netsmart looks to lead on integrated care as the healthcare industry moves toward an enhanced and connected care experience.



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