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HL7 Da Vinci Project Shows the Value of Collaboration to Build FHIR Tools

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 30, 2020 3:28:32 PM / by Sagran Moodley

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I like to describe the solutions that the HL7 Da Vinci Project and the other HL7 FHIR accelerator programs are creating to build something useful and large out of LEGO blocks.

In the Da Vinci initiative, a cadre of talented technical experts have worked since September 2018 to take the pieces of HL7 FHIR coding and adapt them to real-world solutions that reflect the demands for bi-directional information exchange in support of value-based care arrangements.

Currently, members from 49 organizations are working on a range of use cases that will serve as blueprints for how to address vexing problems in data exchange that must be solved for the nation’s healthcare system to become more efficient.

In one such instance, a payer and three provider organizations in the Pacific Northwest are partnering on a new data-sharing approach. The initiative will use Da Vinci use cases for medication reconciliation and develop an implementation guide that will provide a standard, consistent approach that employs FHIR, to enable easy exchange of data between the providers and the payer.

That’s only one of many exciting developments this year. Another boost for the Da Vinci Project’s work can be seen in the final rules recently released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), which have codified the use of FHIR in achieving specific data exchange capabilities. The CMS rule, in particular, creates a lot of new opportunities to expand API usage across the healthcare industry, a CMS official indicated in a recent Da Vinci webinar. Initial requirements in the final rule will prompt payers to use APIs to enable faster data exchange with patients and with other payers. The inclusion of the Da Vinci Project in implementation resources from CMS, and its acknowledgement of Da Vinci’s value to the industry, is important because it underscores the federal agencies' efforts to promote the use of FHIR in standardized approaches that can be shared among various organizations in the healthcare industry.

That’s the big benefit that our project’s use cases offer – instead of each organization taking FHIR and crafting one-off solutions to connect with another organization, we aim to develop reproducible solutions (blueprints) that save organizations money and time that, frankly, is wasted in developing individual custom point-to-point solutions.

The industry needs better data exchange now more than ever as healthcare organizations battle the COVID pandemic. One thing that we’ve learned from COVID is that the industry can make things happen quickly, cutting through what’s been perceived to be red tape and tradition. FHIR has the ability to answer these new challenges driven by COVID – the FHIR community now is creating a blueprint to refine the Electronic Case Reporting (eCR), which will allow the use of an app that can be integrated into electronic health records systems to enable the products to gather and forward data on COVID-19 patients to public health agencies. The need for the eCR use case is critical, and it indicates the potential for the industry to ingest and process additional critical workflows, like prior authorization and increased digital patient data exchange beyond case reporting, which can better sew together all of the partners in a patient’s care system.

About two years into our work, we have a great message, with illustrations of use cases that have demonstrated the practicality of our approach. But while we’ve been active at the ground level in developing FHIR-based solutions, it’s time to ramp up efforts in a manner that relates with the in the C-suites across the industry about what we’re accomplishing, and how our deliverables are helping to build payer-to-payer and payer-to-provider data exchange.

The Da Vinci Project needs to increase its focus on advancing and promoting the adoption of its use cases across the industry. With the recent release of the federal final rules, it’s clear that a lot of pieces are coming together for our initiative, but that final leap – from theory to actual implementation – is often the most difficult hurdle to surmount.

It would be a pity to get all consumed in achieving certain formal steps of the process and then not have our end products – which were developed in an industry-first manner for the public good – gain the traction they should among influential executives in the industry to get them implemented in the real world. We now must transition to becoming evangelists for accelerating FHIR and our project. It’s worth each of us going back to industry participants and asking, how can we support each other in making this real? Can you join us to share the lessons we’ve learned? Can we work better together to jump-start adoption in our own markets?

No matter how interesting or game changing we know our work is, if it’s not applied practically, we will fall short of our goals. We need to be widely collaborative and inclusive in what we do. That will build support for the transition from theory to practice.

Finally, we need to be committed to demonstrate that, despite many blockers, different priorities and challenges that exist, the eventual goal for the industry needs to be interoperability. Unless interoperability becomes elementary, the easy exchange of data will face headwinds and grudging acceptance. With FHIR, and the ground-breaking work we’ve accomplished thus far, we can educate the industry on the achievability of this goal.

Please join me – even as we step outside our comfort zones – in spreading the power and promise of Da Vinci across your teams and partners. Join us in making 2020 the year of implementation.

Join the Da Vinci Community!

To learn more and join the community, visit

Participate in Upcoming Da Vinci Related Events

The Da Vinci Project will be participating in two upcoming virtual HL7 events: The HL7 FHIR Patient Access API Implementation Event on August 17-19 and the HL7 FHIR Connectathon on September 9 - 11. We hope to see you there!

HL7 FHIR Patient Access API Implementation Event

With the recent release of the CMS/ONC final rule and the impending implementation deadline, this event will be narrowly focused on the requirements for patient access APIs by payers. The goals for this implementation-a-thon and associated educational events are as follows:

  • To inform the broader community of the work Accelerators have done to lay the groundwork for meeting the final rules
  • To help participants prepare for the September HL7 FHIR Connectathon and Working Group Meeting  

HL7 FHIR Connectathon

This virtual event includes three days of hands-on FHIR development and testing. It provides an opportunity for implementers and developers to gain experience developing FHIR- based solutions by participating in one of many tracks. 

Topics: FHIR, HL7 community, interoperability, Payers, CMS, Da Vinci, value based care, implementation guide, eCR

Sagran Moodley

Written by Sagran Moodley

Sagran Moodley currently serves as the Chair of the HL7 Da Vinci Project Steering Committee and member of the HL7 Advisory Council. He is the Senior Vice President of UHC Clinical Data Serves & Technology for UnitedHealth Group.

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