Azure API for FHIR now available in Canada  

By Dr. Helia Mohammadi, Chief Data Scientist & Healthcare Industry Lead, Microsoft Canada 

The global adoption of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) has transformed the healthcare industry by enabling the rapid exchange of medical information electronically between healthcare providers, who often use disparate systems, across a single, simplified data management solution. As the healthcare industry continues to accelerate its digital transformation and more Protected Health Information (PHI) becomes electronic, we are pleased to announce the general availability of Azure API for FHIR in our local Canadian data centers.  

Data Interoperability with FHIR 

From remote patient monitoring to clinical trials and research teams, data needs to flow seamlessly in a trusted environment. However, the data ecosystem across the healthcare sector is sophisticated and complex, making data interoperability a challenge. By enabling health data to work in the open format of FHIR, healthcare providers are empowered to innovate for the future of health. Now more than ever, industry leaders are prioritizing cloud technology that works on open standards. FHIR is rapidly becoming established as the preferred standard because it facilitates interoperability and the secure exchange of PHI.  

Azure API for FHIR 

Azure API for FHIR offers a turnkey platform for a cloud-based FHIR service where healthcare providers can quickly connect existing data sources, such as electronic health record systems and research databases. Designed as a Platform-as-a-Service, customers can free up operational resources and focus on new opportunities with analytics, machine learning and actionable intelligence across health data. This robust, extensible data model standardizes languages and data exchange so all systems using FHIR can work together. It’s designed precisely for health data flows, so it allows for data interoperability and sets the ecosystem up for the future as the science of medicine evolves.  

With the expansion of Microsoft’s portfolio for FHIR, we have developed new open-source software (OSS) and connectors that will enable advanced interoperability.  For healthcare organizations looking to convert legacy formats like HL7 V2 into the FHIR format, the FHIR Converter is a simple, yet powerful OSS tool that transforms the data to FHIR, making it easier to get up and running with Azure API for FHIR.  

When it comes to PHI, we recognize that data security is paramount. We’ve built the Azure API for FHIR so all data is isolated and protected with layered, in-depth defense and advanced threat protection according to the most stringent industry compliance standards. When sharing data for secondary use, Microsoft’s OSS FHIR Tools for Anonymization offers de-identification of the 18 identifiers through redaction or date-shifting for the extraction and exchange of data in anonymized formats. 

Also available is  FHIR Server for Azurean open-source implementation of FHIR that is specifically designed for the Microsoft cloud. With data in the FHIR format, the FHIR Server for Azure enables developers to quickly ingest and manage FHIR datasets in the cloud, track and manage data access and normalize data for machine learning workloads.  

Azure API for FHIR in action 

Children’s Mercy Kansas City and its research institute, CMRI, manage one of the leading genome sequencing centers in the United States. Working with Microsoft and Pacific Biosciences, Children’s Mercy created a scalable, sharable, cloud-based data hub, GA4K, for vital research into pediatric diseases. Beyond supporting its own research, GA4K acts as a central hub of genomic research that the entire pediatric care community can share. However, in contributing to wider bodies of genomic research, Children’s Mercy has also had to deal with challenges around data compatibility and system interoperability. 

Working with Microsoft, CMRI is leveraging the Azure API for FHIR to streamline a path to share data in the standard HL7 FHIR format and simplify collaboration with other pediatric researchers around the world. This enables the critical sharing of new insights on rare diseases with the wider research community, without being held back by long hardware procurement cycles.  

Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, one of the largest rehabilitation hospitals in the United States, teamed up with the wearable technology experts at Sensoria Health to use Microsoft Azure IoT Central and the Azure API for FHIR to develop a highly secure continuous monitoring solution for diabetic patients at high risk of lower limb amputations.  

Sensoria Health leveraged its microelectronic device, Sensoria Core, to enable biometric data collection from garments and footwear, giving physicians the ability to make better-informed decisions regarding the health and care of their patients. Using Azure API for FHIR for highly secure management of PHI, this real-time patient data is transforming the relationship between clinician and patient, shifting from traditional reactive, symptom-based care toward proactive, personalized care.  

General Availability in Canada 

Here in Canada, healthcare providers now have the opportunity to pioneer new innovation with the general availability of Azure API for FHIR. In addition to managing PHI data across the Azure environment in the FHIR format, customers will have access to our Microsoft Azure engineering team and a dedicated team of industry and technical specialists, as well as technical training and resources.  

The future of health data in the cloud is here, and it’s on FHIR. Please visit Azure API for FHIR(r) | Microsoft Azure and reach out to the Microsoft Canada healthcare team [email protected] to learn more. 

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