On July 1, 2021, new requirements from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) come into effect, requiring regulated payers to enable new APIs for patient access and the provider directory. While this change may come without much of a news, it is a huge milestone in healthcare. Why? Because it is one of the first major milestones under the Final rule for CMS interoperability and patient access | Orientation portal affecting the interoperability of health data for patients.

As CMS continues to expand its roadmap to improve interoperability and access to health information for patients, providers and payers, Microsoft continues to support our partners in working with health data. I am pleased to announce that the Azure API for FHIR offers new features that facilitate the organization of data from across the enterprise and support the new CMS requirements, including:

  • basic Resting skillsincluding create, update, read, patch * and search.
  • Complete flexibility about what you can do Search in the system.
  • Use industry profiles or bring in your own profiles to further define how data is stored and validate the data to verify that it fits this context.
  • Supports various HL7® Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources® (FHIR®) business* mentioned in the CMS implementation guides. This includes the $ member-match operation to support the data exchange between payers and the operation Patient / $ everything * in order to receive all data on a patient.

What do health organizations have to consider on July 1st, 2021?

New accessibility for patients: All payers regulated by the CMS must use FHIR APIs to give patients easy access to their clinical information, including claims data. The rule also mandates the use of FHIR APIs to share a directory of providers to help patients find providers for their specific needs, or for clinicians to find other providers to coordinate care.

New obligations for providers and payers to provide data: The Patient Access APIs and Provider Directory allow patients to give their consent to enable data access through third-party applications, opening a potentially new landscape of tools and technologies that healthcare organizations need to navigate. The good news? If you have activated FHIR technology for data exchange in your company, you have activated a robust, extensible data model with standardized semantics that enables all systems that use FHIR to work together. By converting your data into FHIR, you can quickly connect existing data sources such as electronic patient record systems or research databases. And with the new features in the Azure API for FHIR, you can easily support new requests for data access according to the CMS guidelines in mobile and web applications.

MultiCare Connected Care (MCC), a wholly owned subsidiary of MultiCare Health System, is an independent responsible care organization comprised of a wide range of health care providers and services. In collaboration with a payer partner, MCC implemented a pilot use case for medication matching using one of the HL7 Da Vinci implementation guides –Data exchange for quality measures. MCC wanted to validate that FHIR standards could reduce the burden on providers and patients by changing how MCC collects and delivers compliance quality data to its payment partners. Enabling FHIR enabled them to maintain data parity and resulted in a 40 percent improvement in their compliance process. Once the pilot has been validated, the partnership with Microsoft will help bring the scope and efficiency of the API for FHIR to this project.

Our mission at MultiCare Connected Care is Partnering for Healing and a Healthy Future. We live our mission every day, and in implementing technology at scale, the Azure platform delivers on that promise. It enables us to expand our pilot to multiple partners and create a healthier future for all of whom we have the privilege to serve. “—Anna Taylor, Director of Operations, MultiCare Connected Care

For all of our customers like MCC, Microsoft prides itself on being your partner of choice in health and life sciences. As you make technological decisions and decisions in the cloud, we develop technologies for the unique needs of health data and enable future-proof products so that your company can meet the changing requirements of health interoperability.

Microsoft: your partner for health data interoperability

Microsoft would like to enable our partners to meet the requirements of July 1, 2021 and the requirements of CMS and the Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) over the next few years. We strive to support our partners on the path to healthcare interoperability in the cloud to improve access to health data and patient care.

We are moving into a future in which open standards, a quick and easy exchange of health data and the autonomy of end patients over their health data will become a reality. The faster we set up our data systems and infrastructure, the easier it will be for organizations and their patients to go beyond simply meeting new regulatory requirements and reaping the real benefits of interoperable health data.

Learn more about the The ability of Azure API for FHIR to help you comply with CMS guidelines and about the Azure API for FHIR.


* Some items are available now, while others won’t be launched until July 1, 2021.

® Health Level Seven, HL7, FHIR and CDA are registered trademarks of Health Level Seven International, registered in the US Trademark Office and are used with permission.

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