HL7 Launches FHIR Accelerator for Public Health Data

Oct. 19, 2021
Helios, named after the ancient Greek god of the sun, intends to streamline data sharing across all levels of public health using the FHIR standard

The pandemic has highlighted how siloed public health data systems remain. To help address the situation, standards organization HL7 has expanded its roster of FHIR accelerators with one focused on public health data.

The effort, called Helios, after the ancient Greek god of the sun, intends to strengthen the capacity and streamline data sharing across all levels of public health using the FHIR standard.

The FHIR accelerator program seeks to speed the development and availability of FHIR to deliver better data that leads to better health outcomes. Other accelerators include the Argonaut Project, Carin Alliance, Codex, Da Vinci, the Gravity Project, and Vulcan.

Helios is jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

“Public health has risen in urgency and importance over the last 18 months,” said the ONC’s National Coordinator for Health IT Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., M.P.P., in a statement. “FHIR accelerators have had great success in engaging implementers as early as possible to help identify and overcome longstanding barriers to interoperability. The Helios alliance is a market-based implementation collaboration that will help to ensure FHIR development is coordinated and focused on real world public health needs.”

Helios expects to bring together tate, tribal, local, territorial, and federal public health agencies, private and philanthropic sector partners, and other groups interested in the equitable and effective use of data for the advancement of public health.

“Helios is expected to become an integral component of the HL7 FHIR Accelerator Program and comprise a cornerstone to the newly announced HL7 Implementation Division,” said Charles Jaffe, M.D., Ph.D., the CEO of Health Level Seven International, in a statement.

Helios members will help demonstrate the utility of FHIR and ensure public health needs are at the forefront as FHIR-based implementations evolve and rollout nationwide.

“Standardizing and automating our data flows will help us accelerate data into action,” said Daniel Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H., CDC’s Deputy Director for Public Health Science and Surveillance, in a statement. “Organizing in this way will help ensure FHIR-based solutions are integrated, aligned, and are a complement to everything else that's going on in the public health community.”