Blockchain vs. FHIR in Healthcare Integration

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As global healthcare continues to be one of the most ongoing challenges worldwide, now people must think about the complexities of health data. With that said, two powerhouse data integration systems are in place – FHIR and blockchain.

First, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) was created in response to the global failure of HL7 V3 as an interoperability standard. FHIR is a much nimbler, lower-cost integration standard built on the modern technologies and more realistic expectations of what to expect from today’s health integration layers.

But now, let’s talk about blockchain – an age-old solution? Yes. But an effective way to support health data being shared between systems? Of course. Both a repository and a secure, easy-to-use bundle for related synchronizing messages. The promise is high for a subset of health integration requirements but not for all. FHIR is still an invaluable part of the toolkit.

Although there are several potential lenses to look at the two technologies in regard to healthcare integration solutions, we’ll talk about five of them here.

Persistence

  • FHIR acts as a collection of transient messages that are responsible for moving data between persistent data stores or for on-demand usage.
  • Blockchain constantly stores data, making it an immutable record of not just data but also the messages that change it.

Synchronizing

  • FHIR helps registries synchronize themselves but can’t work beyond messages.
  • Blockchain solutions can create synchronized registries in multiple locations.

Provenance

  • FHIR messages interact between systems to query a provenance system.
  • Blockchain provides the history of interactions through time, providing effective provenance solutions.

Consent

  • FHIR messages require external systems for consent management.
  • Blockchain solutions enable internalization with easier client consent through public-private key encryption, and other such initiatives are underway.

Performance

  • FHIR messages are delivered faster, having a significant advantage when delivering new information to a non-local system.
  • Blockchain solutions have caching of complete information locally, but new transactions can take time (depending on the technology) to work through consensus, finalization and distribution.

Can these two work together

The answer is yes.

When FHIR works with blockchain, they can ensure a more consumer-centric database. Despite their major differences, they can still work together to ensure good quality in accessing data whenever users want.

With that said, FHIR and blockchain working together means the following.

  • Consumers won’t need a vendor-specific platform to house their information, while healthcare organizations won’t have to choose who to partner with.
  • Identities are verified to root out duplicates and ensure that information (especially those under different names with different organizations) are accounted for.
  • Patient data is now more secure than ever, with FHIR needing blockchain to secure data and prevent security breaches.
  • Accurate health information is ensured without manipulating any records but always updating when needed.

Conclusion

Ultimately, healthcare organizations must look at their plans in terms of investing in future technology, and ensuring that the new technology will be compatible with FHIR. As for existing technology, swift efforts should be made to ensure that all healthcare computer systems and software are able to exchange and make use of vital information (e.g. patient data, records, etc.).

In addition, healthcare leaders must stay up-to-date on the latest blockchain news from other industries in order to gain more insights on this platform and even recognize the best techniques that could be applied to set up blockchain in healthcare. At the same time, leaders must consider how to stay proactive when considering the use of blockchain because like FHIR, blockchain is going nowhere anytime soon.

For the healthcare industry as a whole, there’s nothing wrong with organizations collaborating with each other in order to give people the best access to healthcare available (even with many health conditions and needs to consider in this industry). Through collaborations, organizations would not only apply both FHIR and blockchain into their practices to create a more consumer-centric healthcare experience, but also strive to lower cost of care (e.g. surgery, therapy, etc.) and have the ability to provide their patients with more data-driven decisions. In hindsight, interoperability is driven by both of these technologies and can transform the way healthcare is delivered to the masses.


Katherine Rundell

Katherine Rundell is a crypto writer and editor at Essay Writing Services UK and Academized.com. As a professional writer, she has been involved in many writing projects like best essay writing services and has blogged about her experiences on her website. She likes to travel to different states, give special talks in various business training courses and read her favorite books (ranging in different genres).

 
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