Communication is one of the event resources in the FHIR workflow specification. It is a record of communication even if it is planned or has failed. Communication is a conveyance of information from one entity, a sender, to another entity, a receiver. The sender and receivers may be patients, practitioners, related persons, organizations, or devices. Communication use cases include:
– A reminder or alert delivered to a responsible provider
– A recorded notification from the nurse to the on-call physician (or any other specified person) that a patient’s temperature exceeds a value
– A notification to a public health agency of a patient presenting with a communicable disease reportable to the public health agency
– Patient educational material sent by a provider to a patient
– Unable to deliver lab results to ordering physician
Non-patient specific communication use cases may include:
– A nurse call from a hall bathroom
– Advisory for battery service from a pump
This resource is a record of communication that has occurred. It does not represent the actual flow of communication. While AuditEvent can track electronic disclosures of information, it cannot track conversations, phone calls, letters and other interactions that are not system-to-system. And even for system-to-system communications, the specific end recipients might not be known. Furthermore, AuditEvents are not considered to be “part” of the patient record, while Communication instances are. The Communication resource is not used as a general audit mechanism to track every disclosure of every record. Rather, it is used when a clinician or other user wants to ensure a record of a particular communication is itself maintained as part of the reviewable health record.
Flag resources represent a continuous ongoing “communication” alerting anyone dealing with the patient of certain precautions to take or issues to be aware of. The flags are continuously present as an ongoing reminder. This is distinct from Communication where there is a specific intended sender and receiver and the information is delivered only once.
Communication and Encounter: The Communication is about the transfer of information (which might or might not occur as part of an encounter), while Encounter is about the coming together (in person or virtually) of a Patient with a Practitioner. Communication does not deal with the duration of a call, it represents the fact that information was transferred at a particular point in time.
The phone calls involving the Patient should be handled using Encounter. Phone calls not involving the patient (e.g. between practitioners or practitioner to relative) that are tracked for billing or other purposes can use Communication to represent the information transferred but are not ideal to represent the call itself. A better mechanism for handling such calls will be explored in a future release. This resource is referenced by itself
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a draft standard describing data formats and elements (known as “resources”) and an application programming interface (API) for exchanging electronic health records. The standard was created by the Health Level Seven International (HL7) health-care standards organization.
Its goal is to facilitate interoperation between legacy healthcare systems, to make it easy to provide healthcare information to healthcare providers and individuals on a wide variety of devices from computers to tablets to cell phones, and to allow third-party application developers to provide medical applications which can be easily integrated into existing systems.
FHIR provides an alternative to document-centric approaches by directly exposing discrete data elements as services. For example, basic elements of healthcare like patients, admissions, diagnostic reports and medications can each be retrieved and manipulated via their own resource URLs (Uniform Resource Locators). FHIR was supported at an American Medical Informatics Association meeting by many EHR (Electronic Health Record) vendors which value its open and extensible nature.