National coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD, announced three new developer challenges that aim to advance interoperability via the emerging FHIR standard Tuesday morning at HIMSS16
The “challenge grants” have three streams: a consumer-facing, vendor neutral app based on FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources), a provider-facing app, and a discovery place where people can go to download those apps.
DeSalvo said the intent is “to create a world that is more Internet-like,” more akin to the technological advancements that Americans are accustomed to in banking, retail and so many other industries.
“We hope that helping stimulate the market will continue to galvanize the work that has already gone on with FHIR,” said Steve Posnack, director of ONC’s office of standards and technology. “We’re showing love to both [the patient and provider] communities.”
The first phase includes what Posnack called “booster rocket money” to help entrepreneurs get started – though he added that the challenge is open to anyone and participants won’t be eliminated until the winners are announced.
With a total of $625,000 to hand out, Posnack said that the grand prize winners will garner $50,000 while second place winners will collect $25,000 and there’s an award for which contestant connects with the most health systems.
The developer challenge follows announcements that Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell made Monday evening at HIMSS16 in which EHR makers Cerner, Epic and Meditech all pledged to use application programming interfaces to make patient access easier.
DeSalvo explained that the developer challenges are an opportunity for the federal government to further its work with private sector entrepreneurs, public health, clinicians to better make use of health information for patient-centric care.
“It's time for us to see some digital dividend,” DeSalvo said, “to really make that data sing.”