HL7 FHIR Foundry: A Hub for Finding, Testing Reference Implementations

May 22, 2024
Platform empowers implementers to engage with FHIR standards in a practical and scalable way, standards organization says

Nonprofit standards development organization HL7 has created a platform designed to advance the discovery, testing, and implementation of FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) specifications.

HL7 said its new FHIR Foundry offers a centralized, user-friendly environment for developers and implementers worldwide.
“The HL7 FHIR Foundry represents a major leap forward in supporting the international health IT community by providing a centralized, and user-friendly platform for FHIR specification discovery, trying, and testing” said Diego Kaminker, HL7’s deputy chief standards implementation officer, in a statement. ”The Foundry empowers implementers around the world to engage with FHIR standards in a practical and scalable way. This will accelerate innovation, enhance interoperability, and ultimately improve healthcare outcomes globally.”
Federal regulators continue to encourage the use of FHIR APIs to enhance interoperability. For instance, when the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released Version 2.0 of the Common Agreement defining how different health information networks and their users securely share clinical information with each other, it required support for FHIR API exchange.

Also, payer and provider organizations are working together on implementing FHIR standards. The Da Vinci Project is a collaborative effort based at HL7 to standardized FHIR-based interfaces between payers and healthcare organizations, replacing legacy interfaces for sharing documents. 

The FHIR Foundry consists of two key components: Foundry Gallery and Foundry Hosting. This integrated environment builds on the success of FHIR sandbox environments, HL7 said.
Foundry Gallery is a repository of open-source reference implementations (RIs) aligned with HL7 specifications. It allows users to:
Discover: Easily search for projects by technology, role, description, or domain. For example, users can explore how FHIR can be applied to genomics or manage provider registries.
Try: Utilize client RIs to understand the practical implications of FHIR implementations, facilitating learning and reuse of source code.
Test: Leverage RI servers to validate client applications against known working instances.
Foundry Hosting is an HL7-managed, cloud-based environment for hosting RI clients and servers. HL7 said that it ensures:
Availability: A centralized, living lab environment.
Scalability: Flexibility to match demand.
Integration and Deployment: Shared services/automatic local implementation.
Consistency: Adherence to standard practices for RI development.
Maintainability: Continuous integration and deployment connected to GitHub and Docker Hub.
HL7 expects that the FHIR Foundry will become the go-to resource for finding and experimenting with reference implementations, accessible to all, including those with limited technical skills. 

The Foundry will also enable continuous testing beyond Connectathons and dedicated events, allowing implementers to test client applications and servers using robust sample data at any time. 

Finally, HL7 standards development will evolve to include the deployment of reference implementation software as part of quality assurance and publication processes, thereby increasing the rigor and reliability of standards development.
Skycapp, a provider of healthcare software solutions and implementation services, contributed the underlying delivery platform for HL7 FHIR Foundry.


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