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What Health IT Sales Reps Need to Know About FHIR


The latest technology trends have always made an impact on the healthcare industry. Artificial intelligence is making it easier to accurately diagnose patients. Robotics have made many surgeries less invasive. Microprocessors have made life-changing medical devices possible.

But there is one tech trend that seems to be stirring up trouble in the industry: interoperability.

New breakthroughs in how we access, process, and share information have shown many doctors the shortcomings of their current electronic health records systems. As a result, the health IT sales sector has taken a big hit.

In fact, our 2018 Medical Sales Salary Report found that health IT sales reps dropped from the top earners in 2017 to not even being in the top three this year.

Luckily, an outside player is stepping in to reframe EHRs with a focus on interoperability. In March, tech titan Google announced it was working to perfect Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) in order to rectify the current issues with EHRs. While these sudden changes might intimidate many health IT salespeople, in the long-run, they will rejuvenate the industry.

Here are three things to understand about FHIR and its impact on your job:

What exactly is FHIR?

EHRs are frustratingly siloed. Each EHR vendor uses different data and coding for storing patient records. This means if a doctor needs to access lab results on record with another office, there are dozens of hoops to jump through to get the information.

Part of this issue developed because there was never a standardized communication protocol developed as EHRs became popular. As a result, whenever there were new government regulations or tech advances, vendors had to try to fit those new square pegs into a round hole.

FHIR takes a new approach, asking: Given what we know now, how would we rebuild this system to make it better?

FHIR is built on web-based authentication frameworks that are already being successfully used outside of healthcare. This creates a scalable way of sharing data. Whether it’s being used to process individual records or bulk-data, it’s standardized across the board.

How Google can impact the technology

Google brings expertise in machine learning to the FHIR table. Google claims one of its main goals is to “de-identify” medical data so it can be quickly processed. By being able to look at patient histories, treatment protocols, and health outcomes in a standardized way, FHIR makes it easier for doctors, researchers, and others in the healthcare industry to see the big picture.

For doctors, this eliminates a lot of clerical work and provides more time to interact with patients.

From a vendor perspective, this also means a shorter time to update the programming of their EHR system. By using Google’s established FHIR tools, health IT companies can quickly improve their program so it fits within the new framework.

How it will rejuvenate health IT

A company’s success is directly tied to customer satisfaction. The more time and frustration your product can save, the stronger customer loyalty will become. Plus, since Google is already doing most of the basic legwork, FHIR means quicker updates and user-friendly end products.

For you, as a health IT sales rep, this also makes your job easier. In the past, you had to convince potential customers why your EHR was different and superior. But since there was no industry standard, doctors were often skeptical of your sales pitch.

Now, once your company adopts FHIR, you can confidently explain how your product meets all their needs and is compliant with government regulations. Also, being familiar with your customers’ past concerns, you can clearly explain how your new product addresses all those issues.

Change is scary. Companies are forced to adapt to new frameworks or start from scratch. But thanks to Google’s FHIR involvement, health IT companies have access to new technology that is already proven to improve EHRs.

What are some other ways FHIR is improving the health IT industry? Share in the comments below.

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