In the past two years, we have witnessed a significant use case for population health data. Contact tracing has allowed many of us to be notified of potential COVID-19 contact and get tested. The data behind these systems has allowed healthcare professionals to track case numbers and vaccination rates.

Measuring and analysing the health of populations can feed innovations in care delivery. Healthcare professionals need data at their fingertips to make these innovations a reality. FHIR implementation is an emerging method supporting interoperability, which can, in turn, support population health initiatives.

What is population health?

Population health studies the general healthcare of a population in a geographic region. It demonstrates a conscious focus on the quality of life for individuals and populations by recognising social dynamics and economic realities.

Population health also aims to focus on specific subgroups of people within a wider population. These subgroups might get overlooked when aggregated within the larger population. The key focus is about finding ways to improve health for everyone. Population health analyses social determinants of health, such as financial stability, access to healthcare and education, and their social environment. 

Population health leverages data to highlight health concerns within communities and designate where they should direct resources. Initiatives to improve population health include:

  • Maintenance of positive mental, physical, social and economic well-being in all or most members of a population
  • Working with medical centres and other essential services to improve healthcare
  • Improving the availability of preventative care

How FHIR implementation integrates EHRs

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a specification that makes it easier for health data exchanges between multiple systems. It supports private and secure interoperability between health systems, such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs). So, FHIR implementation ensures the delivery of data from EHRs to population health experts.

One of FHIR’s many benefits includes standardising the structure for delivering healthcare data. Standardised data is one of the challenges associated with EHRs because there is a lack of it. Healthcare providers might have customised EHR systems that hinder the process of converting information into a standard format on another system, the units of measurement or naming conventions may be different, or there may be some other inconsistencies between disparate systems.

FHIR can categorise data by condition, medication, location, finance, or social context and is able to standardise data across various systems. EHRs might capture some of this data, which healthcare professionals can leverage to improve population health initiatives.

Data transformation in population health through FHIR implementation

Success in population health requires more than EHR integration. It requires the secure integration of data from a variety of healthcare sources including wearables, personal health behaviours, economic context, a person’s environment and access to healthcare.

FHIR implementation provides for a robust environment that can support data transformation in population health. FHIR  has many benefits for population health experts, including increased efficiency and reduced duplication of data entry efforts.

FHIR empowers organisations to make more informed decisions through population health management and analytics. As it promotes standardised data, it can help healthcare professionals remove inaccurate data. This is another way in which population health can benefit from data transformation. With accurate data on hand, population health experts can better find new ways to provide high-quality patient care.

It is pertinent to note that consent is a key barrier to interoperability. How can you be sure a patient has consented to share their data? At the moment, many organisations are cautious about sharing patient information by default, and there are stringent laws in most jurisdictions protecting patient privacy. The FHIR standard supports patient consent, for information sharing and treatment amongst others, and provides technical mechanisms to implement patient consent. 

FHIR implementation allows a holistic view of population health

Incomplete data in population health can cause experts to make inaccurate decisions, resulting in poorer health outcomes wasted time and money.

FHIR implementations provide a holistic view of population health by integrating disconnected data into an organised system that is able to aggregate information when and where it is needed. They support interoperability between different systems and applications, thereby enabling healthcare professionals to gain a holistic view of population health.

FHIR can combine information critical to analysing population health, such as financial information or medical appointments and claims. It can also feed real-time insights, including the number of patients that might have accessed a particular service.

Furthermore, FHIR implementations standardise data, allowing healthcare professionals to access and understand all data sources as long as  they leverage FHIR. Healthcare experts can leverage this holistic view of population health to deliver robust, timely, healthcare initiatives.

How Fluffy Spider Technologies supports FHIR implementation

We develop integrated software systems for connected, interoperable digital healthcare. Our solutions manage the electronic health information journey from devices to the cloud and to medical record systems.

We implement FHIR-based solutions in the cloud and the clinic to make health data secure and available when and where you need it. Our experienced team can bring together your devices, telehealth systems, EHRs and other patient management software to ensure each platform works together and delivers frictionless health.

High-quality commercial software requires a dedicated team with relevant experience. We can work with you through the entire process, from concept to commercialisation. Visit our Integration Services page to learn more about our capabilities and solutions.