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Microsoft is expanding the ecosystem of FHIR® for developers with a new tool to securely ingest, normalize, and persist Protected Health Information (PHI) from IoMT devices in the cloud.  

Continuing our commitment to remove the barriers of interoperability in healthcare, we are excited to expand our portfolio of Open Source Software (OSS) to support the HL7 FHIR Standard (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource). The release of the new IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure is available today in GitHub.

An illustration of medical data being connected to FHIR with IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is the subset of IoT devices that capture and transmit patient health data. It represents one of the largest technology revolutions changing the way we deliver healthcare, but IoMT also presents a big challenge for data management.

Data from IoMT devices is often high frequency, high volume, and requires sub-second measurements. Developers have to deal with a range of devices and schemas, from sensors worn on the body, ambient data capture devices, applications that document patient reported outcomes, and even devices that only require the patient to be within a few meters of a sensor.

Traditional healthcare providers, innovators, and even pharma and life sciences researchers are ushering in a new era of healthcare that leverages machine learning and analytics from IoMT devices. Most see a future where devices monitoring patients in their daily lives will be used as a standard approach to deliver cost savings, improve patient visibility outside of the physician’s office, and to create new insights for patient care. Yet as new IoMT apps and solutions are developed, two consistent barriers are preventing broad scalability of these solutions: interoperability of IoMT device data with the rest of the healthcare data, such as clinical or pharmaceutical records, and the security and private exchange of protected health information (PHI) from these devices in the cloud.

In the last several years, the provider ecosystem began to embrace the open source standard of FHIR as a solution for interoperability. FHIR is rapidly becoming the preferred standard for exchanging and managing healthcare information in electronic format and has been most successful in the exchange of clinical health records. We wanted to expand the ecosystem and help developers working with IoMT devices to normalize their data output in FHIR. The robust, extensible data model of FHIR standardizes the semantics of healthcare data and defines standards for exchange, so it fuels interoperability across data systems. We imagined a world where data from multiple device inputs and clinical health data sets could be quickly normalized around FHIR and work together in just minutes, without the added cost and engineering work to manage custom configurations and integration with each and every device and app interface. We wanted to deliver foundational technology that developers could trust so they could focus on innovation. And today, we’re releasing the IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure.

This OSS release opens an exciting new horizon for healthcare data management. It provides a simple tool that can empower application developers and technical professionals working with data from devices to quickly ingest and transform that data into FHIR. By connecting to the Azure API for FHIR, developers can set up a robust and secure pipeline to manage data from IoMT devices in the cloud.

The IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure enables easy deployment in minutes, so developers can begin managing IoMT data in a FHIR Server that supports the latest R4 version of FHIR:

  • Rapid provisioning for ingestion of IoMT data and connectivity to a designated FHIR Server for secure, private, and compliant persistence of PHI data in the cloud
  • Normalization and integrated mapping to transform data to the HL7 FHIR R4 Standard
  • Seamless connectivity with Azure Stream Analytics to query and refine IoMT data in real-time
  • Simplified IoMT device management and the ability to scale through Azure IoT services (including Azure IoT Hub or Azure IoT Central)
  • Secure management for PHI data in the cloud, the IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure has been developed for HIPAA, HITRUST, and GDPR compliance and in full support of requirements for protected health information (PHI)

To enhance scale and connectivity with common patient-facing platforms that collect device data, we’ve also created a FHIR HealthKit framework that works with the IoMT FHIR Connector. If patients are managing data from multiple devices through the Apple Health application, a developer can use the IoMT FHIR Connector to quickly ingest data from all of the devices through the HealthKit API and export it to their FHIR server.

Playing with FHIR
The Microsoft Health engineering team is fully backing this open source project, but like all open source, we are excited to see it grow and improve based on the community’s feedback and contributions. Next week we’ll be joining developers around the world for FHIR Dev Days in Amsterdam to play with the new IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure. Learn more about the architecture of the IoMT FHIR Connector and how to contribute to the project on our GitHub page.

FHIR® is the registered trademark of HL7 and is used with the permission of HL7

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