3 Ways Process Automation Can Help with FHIR Adoption

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Jason Warrelmann

By Jason Warrelmann, vice president global services and process industries, UiPath.

FHIR, or Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, are quickly being adopted on a massive scale. While only 24% of healthcare companies currently utilize application programming interfaces (APIs) at scale, according to recent data, FHIR APIs will become widespread by 2024.

The data also shows that more than 50% of providers (out of 400 surveyed stakeholders) said they are consuming and producing a large number of APIs. However, some players lag behind, with 43% and 37% saying they consume and build APIs, respectively. That being said, however, 67% of providers and 61% of players expect their respective organizations to utilize APIs at scale as soon as 2023.

But what exactly does FHIR do?

Developed by Health Level 7, or HL7, FHIR has quickly become the standard for representing and exchanging health information. FHIR enables how healthcare information can be exchanged between different computer systems regardless of how it is stored. It allows this information, including clinical and administrative data, to be available securely to those who need access to it and who have the right to do so for the benefit of a patient receiving care. However, FHIR APIs are not easy for businesses to adopt, as it is mostly driven by the need for compliance with interoperability rules today. For healthcare providers, this means several steps of preparation before they can be fully FHIR-ready.

FHIR-enabled automation can help make this adoption easier, leaving the preparation to software robots. Automation software makes sharing data and information between teams more seamless, ensuring everyone is on the same page when it comes to FHIR APIs. FHIR-enabled automation also ensures compliance and streamlines important processes, reducing the cost of FHIR adoption and making it faster and more efficient.

Here are the three ways FHIR-enabled automation can simplify the FHIR adoption process:

Automation can lower the cost of adoption

With FHIR APIs, many interfaces and data exchanges are used—there is not just one. Even though the implementation of FHIR is necessary and allows healthcare providers to exchange data through systems more efficiently, the cost associated with implementation can be burdensome. Additionally, the time needed to implement FHIR APIs can be a strain on some organizations, adding to the overall expense of adoption. Also, the cost to maintain this current infrastructure is significant, whether due to deploying more cloud-based storage options as the amount of data grows or implementing new capabilities.

FHIR-enabled automation can help healthcare organizations save money and time and prevent costly errors by making processes more efficient through better data flows across the enterprise.  A software robot is capable of performing a list of more than 600 actions in a given sequence, making FHIR-enabled automation a priority investment for chief information officers (CIOs) looking to reduce overall costs. Automating the adoption process can save organizations money on administrative labor since repetitive, time-consuming tasks will be done automatically. Instead of deploying multiple teams, automating the process with FHIR-enabled technology will save time and money, especially as an organization’s use of automation compounds over time.

Automation can help save time

Letting software robots take on more of the routine work can help businesses save significant amounts of time when it comes to adopting FHIR. According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, nearly 60% of workers surveyed estimate they could save six or more hours a week — almost a full workday — if the repetitive aspects of their jobs were automated. Workers believe that automation will eliminate human error (66%) and recover hours lost to manual, repetitive tasks that could be automated (59%).

Rather than having IT data experts log in to multiple systems, navigate to the correct record, extract the relevant information, log out, log in to the next system, navigate to the right place, paste in the copied information and so on, CIOs can deploy software robots with FHIR-enabled automation to tackle this lengthy process. Not only will FHIR-enabled automation help save teams time, but it will also reduce the number of inevitable errors that comes with working on significant amounts of data.

Automation can help meet healthcare industry standards

The healthcare industry has developed methods to not only send information but also retrieve it—and keep it secure—from a variety of places in different formats. Healthcare technology needs to meet certain standards related to data, patient information and confidentiality. FHIR has a set of industry-standard instructions designed to categorize and extract data from an underlying healthcare system and is mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act.

In addition to this mandated interoperability standard, data integrity and security must be maintained. There are rulesets, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), to follow. And, there are security standards such as HITRUST CSF that act as proof that software is not only capable but has been tested by rigorous criteria to ensure patient-related data is secure. Following these standards is incredibly important when it comes to patient care and confidentiality. So how can industry leaders keep track of it all?

Using FHIR-enabled automation can ensure industry standards and regulations are met every step of the way. For example, healthcare organizations can automatically transfer and process patient data using automation—reducing the need of any intermediaries or third-party involvement. This reduces the risk of violating HIPAA regulation and ensures compliance, while also erasing the need for administrators to perform repetitive and mundane tasks.

Since FHIR’s development began a decade ago, there is still a need to exchange the rapidly growing amount of health data in safter, faster, and easier ways. This growth in new health data created the need that clinicians and consumers to be able to share data in a lightweight, real-time fashion using modern internet technologies and that are up to standards. FHIR-enabled automation makes this adaptation easier and faster, allowing teams to reduce costs, meet regulatory standards such as HIPAA, and save time. Automating workflows with FHIR-enabled software robots eliminates the stress of working with new, complex software and sets all APIs up for success—no matter how much data they’re working with.

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