Are Federal Health Initiatives on FHIR?

The hottest topic in Healthcare interoperability right now is FHIR (pronounced “Fire”)  – HL7’s Fast Health Interoperability Resource framework. FHIR has caught the imagination and attention of developers across the Healthcare world by offering a developer-friendly Application Programming Interface (API)  and a rich set of simple, but flexible standard data formats. If you want a quick overview to FHIR, you can check out two resources:

  1. My HIE Conference Workshop presentation on iCloud (or on
  2. HL7’s FHIR Wiki on Github (This is a great in-depth resource. Just dive in and follow the hyperlinks!)

Major players across the healthcare industry have switched on to FHIR (just Google “Project Argonaut” for more background on activities in the commercial sector). But Innovation is not only happening in the commercial sector, there are innovators across the Federal agencies that are dealing with Health (numerous agencies within HHS, the Veterans Administration and the DoD).  They are “playing with FHIR” to solve real health data challenges. We want to demonstrate the amazing amount of innovation that is taking place and how it is being used to fuel improvements in the delivery of care.

CMS is building BlueButton On FHIR

As an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, I have been working at CMS with Niall Brennan and his team designing the next generation of BlueButton. We are building a data API that will enable Medicare beneficiaries to connect their CMS data to the applications, services and research programs they trust. We are accomplishing this by building BlueButton On FHIR. Using the FHIR framework to publish information for beneficiaries in a standard structured format.

We can learn from each other

As I have gone through a “Baptism of FHIR” I have discovered two things:

  1. The richness and power of the FHIR framework to solve real challenges quickly
  2. The diversity of the FHIR community means we can each learn from one another and together we can solve challenges more efficiently and effectively.

In order to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas, we are calling for all innovators working with FHIR at federal agencies, or in the private sector, to mark your calendars for a two-day code-a-thon event in Washington DC on April 1st and 2nd, 2016. Join us. Demonstrate, collaborate, innovate with fellow developers and create the next generation of data-powered health applications.  You can check out the details we have so far here. The Code-a-thon will include a friendly competition where the winners will be given the opportunity to showcase their work at the Health Datapalooza that takes place May 8-11 in Washington DC.

Are you Playing with FHIR?

We want to find the innovators across Federal Government that are planning or piloting FHIR-based solutions and invite you to the Code-a-thon to meet with others who are working with FHIR in the public and private sector. I recently attended a HL7 FHIR Connect-a-thon and it is clear that there are tremendous benefits to be gained from sharing what we are working on. Attending a Code-a-thon or Connect-a-thon is an opportunity to learn from others that may have already addressed challenges you are trying to solve. However, we can’t invite you to participate if we don’t know who you are. So let’s fix that… You can show your interest in participating by completing our survey. Let us know if you are:

  • Inside or outside government.
  • Planning to publish FHIR data.
  • Planning to use FHIR APIs to acquire information.

Here is the survey link: If you do not have access to Google Forms you can cut and paste the following section into an email, add your responses. Then send to:

  • First Name:
  • Last Name:
  • Email Address:
  • Organization/Agency:
  • Are You a Federal Employee?:  Yes / No
  • Are you planning to Publish data using FHIR?: Yes / No / Maybe
  • Are you planning to use FHIR to collect data?: Yes / No / Maybe

More details on the event and about FHIR to come. We look forward to meeting you at the Code-a-Thon in Washington DC on April 1-2, 2016! (Find out more at