Analytics, Azure Stream Analytics, Internet of Things
Microsoft Azure IoT Connector for FHIR now in preview
By Heather Jordan Cartwright Vice President, Microsoft Health and LifeSciences
5 min read
Today, Microsoft released the preview of Azure IoT Connector for FHIR—a fully managed feature of the Azure API for FHIR. The connector empowers health teams with the technology for a scalable end-to-end pipeline to ingest, transform, and manage Protected Health Information (PHI) data from devices using the security of FHIR® APIs.
Telehealth and remote monitoring. It’s long been talked about in the delivery of healthcare, and while some areas of health have created targeted use cases in the last few years, the availability of scalable telehealth platforms that can span multiple devices and schemas has been a barrier. Yet in a matter of months, COVID-19 has accelerated the discussion. We have an urgent need for care teams to find secure and scalable ways to deliver remote monitoring platforms and to extend their services to patients in the home environment.
Unlike other services that can use generic video services and data transfer in virtual settings, telehealth visits and remote monitoring in healthcare require data pipelines that can securely manage Protected Health Information (PHI). To be truly effective, they must also be designed for interoperability with existing health software like electronic medical record platforms. When it comes to remote monitoring scenarios, privacy, security, and trusted data exchanges are must-haves. Microsoft is actively investing in FHIR-based health technology like the Azure IoT Connector for FHIR to ensure health customers have an ecosystem they trust.
FHIR to fuel the Internet of Medical Things
FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is now the interoperability standard for secure and private exchange of health data. FHIR began as an open source framework for clinical data, but it’s growing adoption makes it an ideal technology to bring together data from the growing “Internet of Medical Things” (IoMT) and expand healthcare in remote monitoring scenarios.
Today remote data capture often requires device-specific platforms, making it difficult to scale when new processes are added or if patients use multiple devices. Developers have to build their own secure pipelines from scratch. With the Azure IoT Connector for FHIR available as a feature on Microsoft’s cloud-based FHIR service, it’s now quick and easy for health developers to set up an ingestion pipeline, designed for security to manage PHI from IoT devices. The Azure IoT Connector for FHIR focuses on biometric data at the ingestion layer, which means it can connect at the device-to-cloud or cloud-to-cloud workstreams. Health data can be sent to Event Hub, Azure IoT Hub, or Azure IoT Central, and is converted to FHIR resources, which enables care teams to view patient data captured from IoT devices in context with clinical records in FHIR.
The key features of the Azure IoT Connector for FHIR include:
- Conversion of biometric data (such as blood glucose, heart rate, or pulse ox) from connected devices into FHIR resources.
- Scalability and real-time data processing.
- Seamless integration with Azure IoT solutions and Azure Stream Analytics.
- Role-based Access Control (RBAC) allows for managing access to device data at scale in Azure API for FHIR.
- Audit log tracking for data flow.
- Helps with compliance in the cloud: ISO 27001:2013 certified, supports HIPAA and GDPR, and built on the HITRUST certified Azure platform.
Microsoft customers are already ushering in the next generation of healthcare
As the delivery of healthcare shifts outside the exam room, new FHIR-enabled technology is fueling IoT scenarios across the ecosystem of Microsoft’s customers.
Here are few of the great solutions already underway:
Humana’s Conviva Care Centers transform care for chronic conditions with IoT and FHIR
Conviva Care Centers, Humana’s senior-focused primary care subsidiary, will be using the Azure IoT Connector for FHIR this fall as Humana accelerates remote monitoring programs for patients living with chronic conditions. Congestive heart failure patients who monitor their weight and blood pressure at home will be able to use a new platform that enables easy sharing of data with their care team. Data from in-home devices, like scales and blood pressure cuffs, can be transferred via Azure IoT Connector for FHIR, providing doctors and nurses real-time data managed in a highly secure and private pipeline and allowing for proactive virtual touchpoints. Humana’s flexible remote monitoring platform will not only ensure patients have the support they need between clinic visits, but will also accelerate the future of user-centric care.
“Using the Azure IoT Connector for FHIR will open up new remote care paths for patients living with chronic conditions. Being able to make decisions with data coming in real time from home devices will be the game changer for improving the quality and timeliness of patient care.” —Marc Willard, Senior Vice President of Digital Health and Analytics at Humana
Sensoria Health’s Motus Smart—powered by Sensoria—is the new gold standard for enabling diabetes rehabilitation with remote monitoring
Motus Smart, powered by Sensoria, is a cutting-edge device used to provide remote patient monitoring quantified patient adherence and activity data to manage patients with diabetic foot ulcers and reduce amputation risk. Sensoria was able to deploy the Azure IoT Connector for FHIR to enable highly secure data exchange from the Motus device to patients, their doctors, and others within their circle of care. Clinicians at the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center are using enterprise-class applications to see real-time data, proactively reach out to patients, and address any issues that might be impeding proper treatment.
Centene connected health data platform helps manage chronic diseases
Centene is using Azure IoT Connector for FHIR in an effort to better manage the ever-expanding personal bio-metric data resulting from the proliferation of wearables and other medical devices. The company is leveraging the connector to explore the use of near-real-time monitoring and alerting as part of its overall priority on improving the health of its members, enabling them to take better care of themselves, and supporting its care management staff with actionable insights to improve the health of the communities Centene serves. In the future, Centene intends to use the connector to monitor and manage chronic conditions such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, and high-blood pressure. By leveraging Microsoft’s scalable, open platforms, Centene can make further progress toward improving outcomes for Centene Health Plan members.
Learn more and get started
We’re excited about the way our customers are embracing and delivering transformative care with FHIR technology. As we bring down the barriers of interoperability with new FHIR-based tools, the future vision of how we can evolve healthcare starts to unfold and it’s inspiring.
Microsoft has expanded the tools in our FHIR ecosystem to include IoT pipelines, so our customers have easy to use, interconnected tools for responsibly managing patient health data. Whether you’re building clinical applications, analytics engines, or developing artificial intelligence (AI) with telehealth and remote monitoring, we want to make sure you have pipelines for PHI data with security in mind. Check out the Azure IoT Connector for FHIR and the Azure API for FHIR to get started today!
Read more about the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, which brings together our integrated capabilities, like our FHIR tools, with robust cloud capabilities specific to customers and partners in the healthcare industry. The Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare enriches patient engagement and connects health teams to help improve collaboration, decision-making, and operational efficiencies.
FHIR® is the registered trademark of HL7 and is used with the permission of HL7.