Moving Towards an eHealth Ecosystem

Earlier this year, major EMR vendor EPIC opened its first App Orchard, where third-party developers can build healthcare apps that can connect directly with the enterprise system using HL7 FHIR. A year before that, Cerner launched code, allowing developers to build on top of their open platform.

These events may seem insignificant to the less technical among us, but they represent a growing appreciation for greater connections across healthcare systems. Discussion about data exchange and interoperability have exploded across the industry this year, which a whole section dedicated to it at HIMSS17.

The potential here is incredible. With major vendors adopting an open attitude towards third-party developers, and modern data standards like FHIR rising in popularity, we are witnessing the growth of a healthcare ecosystem that can connect to tools designed to solve specific healthcare problems. Rather than rely on one vendor to be the jack of all trades, we can leverage the utility and expertise of third-party apps to address all aspects of patient care.

To get ready for eHealth Conference, I would like to share a couple key concepts and terms to keep in mind.


Modern interoperability is moving away from simply reading and storing data between two systems, and evolving into an environment where healthcare data is exchanged, stored, and used across multiple systems. According to HIMSS, interoperability is “the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities.”

HL7 FHIR (a.k.a FHIR)

Developed by HL7, FHIR is their newest data standard that leverages web standards, with a focus on implementation. The standard framework is designed with modern technologies in mind. In a nutshell, FHIR is the language that the data must conform to. EPIC and Cerner have opened their platform for apps built on FHIR. The standard is currently in trial for use in Ontario.


What are your thoughts on interoperability? What kinds of apps do you want to see in your healthcare ecosystem? Share your comments with us on Twitter (@eHealthConf) with the hashtag #eHealth2017.

To learn more about interoperability at eHealth Conference, check out session EP02 – From mHealth to Interoperability and Beyond! on Monday.

For more reading on the topic, visit these articles:

App store for EHRs may be reality in not so distant future

Will the Epic Systems “App Orchard” Grow EHR Interoperability?

Ontario EHR Interoperability Standards

Crystal Chin works with MedStack, a health tech startup in Toronto. MedStack is a cloud-based hosting platform that simplifies building privacy compliance and interoperability in healthcare apps. Connect with her on Twitter (@_CrystalChin).