Ochsner Health & Pfizer Embrace FHIR to Speed Up Clinical Trials

Mar 20, 2019 | Clinical Technology, EHR, Electronic Health Records, FHIR


TrialSite News noticed the Ochsner and Pfizer alliance back in February of this year. We thought it notable that given the hundreds of millions of present days “eClinical vendor” R&D and marketing that one of American’s greatest pharma companies had to go to the health system to secure latest and greatest technology. It is true. The university and health care systems are in a race to improve outcomes by embracing standards such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR).

Principals at TrialSite News are aware of this based on experience developing and implementing care coordination systems across the country—we wholeheartedly embraced FHIR.  Health systems (whether public, private, non-profit or academic-based) have concluded that they must share data for effective and efficient care coordination.  Standards such as HL7 and FHIR support this endeavor. We are active with Medicaid-funded organizations.  Value-based care models will take over. To uncover and understand true cost necessitates accurate and timely data.  In our case we focus on social determinants of health which requires even more creative understanding of how to capture, share and act on a myriad of data elements.

Pharma will go down this path as well. It is on the brink of a tremendous technology boom– as they look outside of themselves and into the healthcare sector and in other relevant industry information technology breakthroughs.  Pharma has distracted itself from time to time.  In one case they formed a consortium even tried to actually build software product. Of course pharma is in the business of developing drugs—not advanced information technologies.   So Pfizer decided to step back and take a look around.  There is a lot going on!

They partnered with Ochsner Health System—one known to be entrepreneurial when it comes to healhIT.  As reported in Health Leaders Media, the two embraced FHIR to quickly transmit data from the EHR (where the health records are) to sponsor-side systems (e.g. electronic data capture, clinical trial management system, etc.).  In this process they seek to build a “digital superhighway” using FHIR.  Read this excellent article to learn more.  For those in pharma that are seeking to create, innovate; to connect and engage; to differentiate—look beyond into the healthcare ecosystem.  Study not only the emerging technologies and trends but also examples of ongoing collaborations, pilots and directives.   Obviously making material progress on the technology front is not easy—it requires entrepreneurial behavior; calculated risk; failure will happen. Take a look out there—even within one’s own pharma company. There are ideas or ongoing experiments or pilots that may have real potential.  Study the emerging activity around FHIR and interoperability in the health care sector.  See how close you are to exchanging data in real time.  As Mr. Edison once noted “May of Life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”