MANDALUYONG, Philippines – The Standards and Interoperability Lab – Asia (SIL-Asia), Asia eHealth Information Network (AeHIN), and Asian Development Bank (ADB) hosted ‘Enabling Interoperability with FHIR: AeHIN’s Regional FHIR Community Workshop’ on 13-15 January 2020 at the Asian Development Bank Headquarters. Fifty delegates representing the government and the academic sectors from Bhutan, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Viet Nam participated in the three-day regional event.
Official Event Banner for the Regional FHIR Workshop
The workshop provided an overview of Health Level Seven International – Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7-FHIR) to digital health practitioners in the region. Specifically, the workshop helped the participants appreciate HL7-FHIR as a standard in comparison with other existing HL7 standards. It also allowed participants to perform Create, Read, Update, Delete (CRUD) Operations on a FHIR server, and model health-related workflows and forms using FHIR resources. Furthermore, the workshop enabled the participants to identify workflows where FHIR can provide value to the countries’ health sector.
On the first day, Prof. Philip Christian Zuniga and Dr. Raymond Francis Sarmiento set the context for discussing standards and interoperability as important enablers to achieve and monitor Universal Health Coverage (UHC) both at the country level.
With this, participants shared how their countries are taking advantage of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in implementing their respective UHC frameworks at the national scale.
James Agnew, Lead Architect with the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation (UHN) in Toronto Canada, and a member of the FHIR Core Team then presented an overview of FHIR to the participants. Agnew discussed the use of FHIR as a data model to easily create databases. Moreover, he explained how it employs standard web technologies to exchange health data among information systems.
In particular, these were the parallel sessions held during the first day of the workshop:
- Modeling Use Cases in FHIR (Dr Raymond Francis Sarmiento and Joanne Mendoza) – Focused on how clinical stories can be modeled using available FHIR resources. This session showed how usual clinical workflows can be processed by FHIR.
- CRUD + Search on FHIR (Ada Angeli Cariaga and Inna Calimbahin) – Introduction of REST API (Representational State Transfer Application Programming Interface) in FHIR.
- Advanced Topics in FHIR (James Agnew) – Discussion on the latest innovations in FHIR like Smart on FHIR or SmileCDR.
During the second day of the workshop, Rose Ann Zuniga talked about SIL-Asia’s FHIR Starter Toolkit, a repository of existing tools and guidance to help individuals and groups kickstart their FHIR-related initiatives and projects. This includes a set of instructions on implementing a FHIR server, and also on using FHIR profiles, among others.
This was followed by Inna Calimbahin’s discussion on Docker, one of the tools that can be used for efficiently running a HAPI-FHIR server.
In continuation, these were the parallel sessions during the second day of the workshop:
- Creating a Simple Web Application with FHIR Backend (Ada Cariaga and Joanne Mendoza) – Hands-on exercise on developing a basic web application with a FHIR backend. This session used HL7-FHIR techniques in sharing, editing, and viewing health data.
- FHIR Profiling (James Agnew and Philip Christian Zuniga) – Hands-on exercise on developing FHIR profiles.
- openIMIS and FHIR (Saurav Bhattarai) – Introduction to openIMIS and its mapping efforts with FHIR. The session also demonstrated how to define an insurance scheme, how to manage claims, and how to generate reports using openIMIS.
- Terminology Services and FHIR (Kate Ebrill, Jim Steel, and Dr Raymond Sarmiento) – Discussion on the use of terminology services in interoperability.
On the last day, Agnew discussed methods on how to test and validate the conformance of information systems with FHIR.
Saurav Bhattarai from GIZ also presented how information systems like openIMIS can be mapped with existing FHIR profiles to enable interoperability with other FHIR-compliant systems.
To proceed with the next steps, participants thought about the value of FHIR in their respective organizations through a design thinking session. This helped them designed concrete steps on how to translate this perceived value into actual FHIR implementations. Participants also identified key resources needed for their FHIR implementation plans.
The workshop was both formally opened and closed by ADB Principal Health Specialist, Dr. Eduardo Banzon and AeHIN Executive Director, Dr. Alvin Marcelo.
Materials from the workshop may be accessed here.
The Regional Interoperability Workshop organized by AeHIN at the sidelines of the Global Health Research Forum last August 2015 gave birth to the concept of Standards and Interoperability Lab – Asia. The regional lab aims to serve as a template of labs in each country that will later form into the Community of Interoperability Labs (COIL).