FHIR, 3-D visualization among Cleveland Clinic's top innovations for 2017

Photo credit: Getty/Olivier Le Moal

The Cleveland Clinic is optimistic that Health Level Seven’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard will be successful in fueling increased interoperability next year--and for years to come.

FHIR landed at No. 6 on the provider organization’s annual list of top 10 medical innovations. In its announcement, Cleveland Clinic said FHIR boasts “huge implications for healthcare” beyond interoperability, saying that “innovators ... can finally take a crack at building smart, data-driven technologies” that can be “adopted anywhere.”

While FHIR continues to make progress in the industry, some believe that speedy expectations for the standard should be tempered. In comments shared recently via Politico’s Morning eHealth, RelayHealth Vice President of Strategy and Product Marketing Arien Malec, who also serves on the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Standards Committee, warned that FHIR won’t move “from nowhere to Nirvana overnight.”

Unlike consumer technology, Malec said, healthcare technology operates on a “three-year innovation cycle.” Despite the standard’s promise, he said mistakes likely will be made in that time. On Twitter, Malec added that such rules don’t just apply to FHIR.

Among other innovations, Cleveland Clinic touted 3-D visualization and augmented reality for surgery on its list (No. 8), saying that the tools already are helping surgeons to operate more efficiently and helping medical residents to better understand what a surgeon sees and does. Cleveland-based Case Western Reserve University has been experimenting with virtual reality technology to see how it could be used in the classroom, with Pamela Davis, dean of the medical school, saying this year that it’s “arguably the most exciting technology in medical education on the horizon today.”

In April , the first surgery was streamed online using virtual reality technology. People around the world were able to watch the Royal London Hospital-based operation using Google Cardboard VR glasses paired with the VRinOR app.