Oscar, Cleveland Clinic use FHIR to streamline data exchange

Cleveland Clinic building
The Cleveland Clinic and Oscar are working on integrating FHIR into an appointment-scheduling tool on their mobile app for members of their co-branded insurance plans. (The Cleveland Clinic)

Oscar Health and the Cleveland Clinic are using a high-tech data exchange standard to improve the customer experience for members of their new co-branded insurance plans.

The standard, called Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), is intended to help promote interoperability between the healthcare industry’s largely siloed electronic health records systems.

For their first project using FHIR, the Cleveland Clinic and Oscar have integrated it into a tool that allows members to select a primary care physician (PCP) through a mobile or web app, according to a post on Medium.

By leveraging FHIR’s capabilities, the app allows members to pull up a list of available Cleveland Clinic doctors and select one based on their health needs. After a member makes a PCP selection, that information is sent back to Cleveland Clinic so the health system’s clinicians can manage that person’s care. So far, one-third of Cleveland Clinic + Oscar plan members have selected a PCP using the new platform.

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The organizations are also working on integrating FHIR into an appointment-scheduling tool on their mobile app. When it goes live, the tool will allow members to easily book a doctor appointment on the app—then it will send data back to the doctor’s office to mark the time slot as booked.

Even before its partnership with Oscar, the Cleveland Clinic saw FHIR as a promising technological tool. In late 2016, it ranked FHIR as No. 6 on its list of top 10 medical innovations for 2017, saying it has “huge implications for healthcare."

Indeed, FHIR plays a role in the recent buzzed-about update to Apple’s Health app. The beta version of that app—which includes a new “health records” section—uses FHIR to facilitate the transfer of users’ medical records from select healthcare providers.

The Cleveland Clinic and Oscar, meanwhile, said they are hope to take on more projects aimed at simplifying the process of clinical information exchange. Earlier this month, the organizations said they enrolled more than 11,000 members in their co-branded plans for 2018—a figure that demonstrates “significantly greater” demand than they anticipated.