Author: Jane Gilbert, Integration Lead, Enterprise Technology, Telstra Health
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a revolutionary open-source standard for healthcare data exchange, which is transforming the healthcare industry. FHIR enables the exchange of healthcare information between different electronic health systems, making it possible for healthcare providers to seamlessly share patient information across different platforms and organisations.
The interoperability that FHIR enables is essential for providing high-quality care to patients, reducing errors and redundancies, and improving the overall efficiency of the healthcare system. FHIR is helping to shape the future of connected healthcare.
At Telstra Health, we focus on a data-driven, rather than document-driven approach to sharing information. We believe that FHIR is core to digital connectivity across care settings which is why we have a robust program of FHIR standards adoption across our entire ecosystem of solutions, software and services.
We know that FHIR standards will not only more readily enable clinical semantic interoperability, but they also help to accelerate the opportunity for analytics and data-driven insights.
Our unique footprint connects across the broad healthcare ecosystem. The breadth, depth and scale of Telstra Health and partner solutions provides us with an opportunity to solve many complex problems that span across multiple segments or within new markets. Our enterprise vision is to enable connected healthcare solutions through timely, accessible and secure health information, built upon a foundation of common components, standards and partner capabilities.
Early adopters of FHIR
Telstra Health has been a leader in FHIR adoption since 2016, in which we used early versions of FHIR to develop the Enterprise Provider Directory (EPD). This was one of the earliest applications in Australia that was built entirely on FHIR standards.
Our EPD solution helps hospitals and large health services to centralise and manage provider, service and organisation details across multiple information systems and automatically update these with national directories. EPD is compliant with HL7 standards and has FHIR-based Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to support current and future interoperability.
Spreading FHIR across Telstra Health’s ecosystem
Our EPD solution was just the start of our FHIR journey; since the launch of this, we’ve rapidly expanded FHIR across our digital health solutions, software and services to not only connect these but to enable integration with entire systems in the health and care sectors.
In primary care, our cloud-based specialist general practice management software, Helix, has been enabling partner integrations since 2018. We are continuing to invest in providing greater interoperability to Helix customers by utilising newer versions of FHIR and a Clinical Data Repository.
Telstra Health is also improving interoperability across some of the national services it manages, for example the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) which it operates on behalf of the Australian Government. The NCSR creates a single electronic record for eligible people participating in Australia’s bowel and cervical screening programs. Enabling FHIR integration has allowed seamless interoperability with systems used in primary and community care. For example, Communicare, Australia’s leading digital primary and community care solution for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), allows healthcare workers to securely access and submit cervical and bowel screening data for the communities they serve.
Broadening FHIR integration across other areas of Telstra Health’s ecosystem, in 2023 we introduced Australia’s FHIR-native virtual health platform - an enhanced virtual care platform for both healthcare providers and patients, regardless of their location. The Virtual Health Platform enables both exchange and storage of data utilising FHIR within a Clinical Data Repository and allows seamless integration with an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or other clinical systems. The platform can be applied across a multitude of use cases, for example hospital in the home, and acute, sub-acute and chronic disease management.
When we consider the beneficial impacts of FHIR for our hospital system, Telstra Health recently introduced Australia's first FHIR- native, mobile-enabled patient administration system, Kyra PAS, to help bridge siloed workflows between hospital departments and sites. and eliminate multiple data sources used within hospital settings. This helps to create more efficient workflows
The timeline below demonstrates FHIR adoption across Telstra Health’s ecosystem.