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FAST Becomes an HL7 FHIR Accelerator, Enhancing FHIR Scalability

As a new HL7 FHIR Accelerator, FAST will be able to continue its scalability work and develop infrastructural standards to support FHIR implementations.

The HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) at Scale Taskforce (FAST) initiative will continue its scalability work as an official HL7 FHIR Accelerator, a recent HealthITBuzz blog post from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) stated.

This announcement comes shortly after HL7 announced that ONC's FAST would transition into an HL7 FHIR Accelerator.

In 2017, ONC founded FAST, a public-private partnership with industry stakeholders, to accelerate the scalability of FHIR across the industry by defining a standard set of infrastructure solutions.

"Many individuals and organizations have dedicated countless hours to FAST," ONC officials Alex Kontur and Stephen Konya wrote in a HealthITBuzz blog post. "Their contributions have been essential to the development of FAST standards and launch of the FAST FHIR Accelerator. To keep things rolling, ONC has joined the FAST FHIR Accelerator as a Founding Member."

Since its inception, FAST has grown tremendously and shifted focus from solely identifying FHIR scalability challenges to proposing FHIR solutions, the HealthITBuzz blog post said.

Transitioning to an HL7 FHIR Accelerator allows the FAST community of developers, implementers, and advocates to take greater ownership of the initiative. This new transition will turn FAST into a more dynamic FHIR-enabled ecosystem, said Kontur and Konya.

"As a widely adopted standard supported by many of the most notable stakeholders in the health IT community, FHIR is making rapid, real-world progress toward addressing the biggest challenges of health data interoperability," Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD, HL7 International CEO, noted in a public statement.

As an HL7Accelerator, FAST will continue its work with participation from various stakeholders. Meanwhile, other HL7 Accelerators will focus on developing critical functional use cases.

In addition, FAST aims to define solutions to address barriers restricting FHIR deployment and will develop infrastructural standards to support FHIR implementations.

"The FAST initiative has accomplished a lot over the years, providing a collaborative setting for identifying FHIR scalability challenges and proposing solutions to address them," said Kontur and Konya.

The FAST initiative has developed a series of implementable solutions that addressed issues such as prior authorization and authentication workflows, patient matching, identity management, access to endpoints and other data from healthcare directories, and routing FHIR transactions through intermediaries.

All of these solutions were implemented to improve the scalability of FHIR and support efforts like the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) that aim to deploy FHIR across health information networks, the HealthITBuzz blog post mentioned.

Overall, ONC said it is excited about the growing adoption of the HL7 FHIR standard and implementation of FHIR-based application programming interfaces (APIs).

"APIs and apps as core drivers of enhanced access, functionality, and user experience in healthcare interoperability," Micky Tripathi, PhD, MMP, National Coordinator for Health IT, said in a recent statement.

Health IT developers are rolling out standardized FHIR APIs based on new certification criteria established in ONC's Cures Act Final Rule.

"As we look to the future, the groundwork laid by ONC's Cures Act Final Rule will pave the way for FHIR-based information exchange at a national scale under TEFCA," said Kontur and Konya. "Indeed, many FAST components are directly applicable to the TEFCA' Facilitated FHIR' exchange mode that will be launched in early 2023."

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