Frequent and thorough software testing has clear positive implications for health data interoperability according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) Medical Informatics.
The study, authored by the MITRE Corporation, AEGIS.net, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) focuses on tools that support testing of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard from Health Level 7 International (HL7). Although there is wide recognition that the lack of health data interoperability has significant impacts, health data standards are complex. As such, test-driven methods play an important role in achieving interoperability. FHIR may be a technical solution that aligns with health information sharing policy, but systems need to be validated and tested.
As the operator of the CMS Alliance to Modernize Healthcare (CAMH) federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), MITRE is dedicated to ensuring the success of health IT priorities, such as interoperability.
The study used two independent validation and testing tools, Crucible and Touchstone, and analyzed the usage and result data to determine their impact on server compliance with the HL7 FHIR specification. The use of such tools is strongly correlated with increased compliance with and conformance to the FHIR standard. Validation and testing tools can aid in the transition to an interoperable healthcare infrastructure. Developers that use testing and validation tools tend to produce more compliant FHIR implementations. The study demonstrates that when it comes to health data interoperability, “practice makes perfect.”