If you have seen recent news, Healthcare industry is going through a massive revolution. Consumer products ranging from Smartphones, Fitness trackers to Genetic Sequencing kits are launched that make use of latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, Blockchain, Gene Sequencing to improve consumer health. Apple recently launched Personal Health Record (PHR) feature with iOS 11.3 and partnered with 39 hospitals that support this feature. Amazon’s recent news of dive into healthcare space has brought healthcare into limelight. Google, Microsoft, Samsung etc. and few other companies have already followed suit and invested in internal healthcare initiatives or healthcare startups and many others have started focusing on this trend by investing resources to build products and features in related market. Billion-dollar companies are not just fighting for share of healthcare market revenue, but the real reason behind the jump is DATA. These companies would be fist fighting in near future to own consumers healthcare data. With Machine Learning and AI as new tools, the time is right for companies to dig deep into Healthcare and Personal Health Record.

 

Healthcare products are highly complex, as they handle a variety of data and have various interfaces to interact with. In addition, if the product is consumer facing it adds another level of complexity related to Health Information Security and Privacy. With billion-dollar companies diving in the Healthcare business with various kinds of products, it is no wonder there is special emphasis on standardization. HL7 and FHIR standards were born from a similar need for healthcare industry.

 

The goal of standards like HL 7 or FHIR is to let everyone securely access and use the right health data when and where they need it and provide standards that empower global health data interoperability. To accomplish interoperability, the ways information is processed and saved need to be harmonized. This problem was solved by “Health Level Seven International” by introducing HL7 standards.

 

HL7 (Health Level 7) refers to set of international standards for the integration, sharing, and retrieval and exchange of electronic health and administrative information between applications used by various health care providers.

 

FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is a next generation standards framework created by HL7. FHIR combines the best features of HL7’s product lines while leveraging the latest web standards and applying a tight focus on ability to implement.

 

This makes Healthcare standards a very important aspect to a healthcare product and allows data exchange less complex. In future if you ask a question — Why is it that every time we go to a new doctor, we don’t have to fill out the same paperwork, and the new doctor already seem to know what the last one did? Or How does an app on your smartphone knows all your vitals? The answer is HL7 and FHIR.

 

HL7 and FHIR deal with HOW and not WHAT that every Product Manager is looking for in a product building equation, but these standards are increasingly gaining importance in company vision, roadmaps and in building new products in healthcare. Here are some reasons it is important for a Product Manager to understand these standards:

 

1. Opportunities: As a Healthcare Product Manager it is important to understand standards involved to identify new product opportunities. HL7 and FHIR like standards can enable connectivity between different systems and products. This connectivity can help identify new product opportunities. Example, imagine not having an existing product in market to fill a certain gap in use case. Wouldn’t it be awesome for your company to build new product or provide new feature and grow?

 

2. Customer Experience: Knowing what information can be presented or acquired from a user or Healthcare provider can help design optimal User Experience(UX). This understanding can also help Information Architecture(IA) and provide overall improvement in customer experience of your product.

 

3. Product Building: Understanding these standards can make Product Managers work with engineering easy. These standards also provide recommendations for Programming Structures, Technical specifications and guidelines for software. This can help reduce the no of iterations to deliver a feature successfully and bug free.

 

4. Metrics/Analytics: Understanding these standards and the information they provide can help identify right success metrics for a feature or product. It can also help build features dependent on analytics to provide patients more in-depth insights into their health.

 

5. Competition: Knowing these standards can sometimes mean having an edge over competitors. In case of Apple, imagine a competitor has already partnered with top hospitals that Apple wants information from?

 

It is clear the next generation Healthcare products would be more connected and interface using HL7 and FHIR. The news like below definitely support the claim:

 

Apple announces effortless solution bringing health records to iPhone

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16225152

McKesson is Preparing for the HL7® FHIR® Standard