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Azure API for FHIR: Healthcare APIs

Posted by Kevin Booth on Sep, 30, 2021 12:09

The importance of the concept of interexchange of data has been crucial in several sectors of public life and not just industrial growth. Currently, the process of interchanging data within the health sector is based on documentation. These methods include the methods of fax, email or electronically send and are generally based on the data providers choosing a method of data transit and generating a message consisting of the data. On one hand, this method is risk-free and helpful in successful data coordination. But, on the other hand, these methods can limit the decision-making and actionable analytics capacity of the organizations along with lacking the necessary care in coordinating the patient records.

This gave rise to the development of a concept termed as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource abbreviated as FHIR. The service for health data has become increasingly popular because of its ability to connect disparate systems and forming a cohesive structure for data transmission. The concept was increasingly showing promise towards being developed into an application-based approach. One such development has been made by Microsoft through the introduction of Azure API for FHIR.

What is Azure API for FHIR use cases in the health sector

The Azure API for FHIR is a Microsoft-developed service that enables the user to interchange data in the FHIR format. It is based on the Platform-as-a-service in the cloud environment.

The use cases for the service include the usage of the tool in consolidation, normalizing, and applying machine learning with clinical data from electronic health records, in remote monitoring programs, and others.

CRM and EHR into reporting System

Azure API for FHIR Pricing details:

The Azure Healthcare APIs is a Platform-as-a-service (PAAS) that aids organizations in uploading, storing, managing, and analyzing healthcare data in the open standards set by the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources service. Along with this, Azure provides for scalability that is beyond practical limits along with access to state-of-the-art machine learning tools. The Azure API for the FHIR Pricing structure can be categorized in the following manner:-

Azure Healthcare APIs –

The Azure Healthcare APIs are a part of the new version of Azure APIs for FHIR. Currently, the service is comprehensively available in the public preview format and is available free of any charges.

Azure API for FHIR –

The billing pattern for the features included in the Azure API for the FHIR Pricing structures is done based on the service runtime. This is inclusive of the RESTful API structure, structured storage, and the provisioned throughput for the storage. The provisioned throughput is useful in various database operations. The user can provision throughput along with elastically scaling in increments of 100 RU/s through the Azure Portal. The pricing details of the service can be provided in the following manner:

UnitPrice
Service Runtime         $0.40 per hour
Provisioned throughput per 100 RU/s         $0.008 per hour
Structured storage          $0.25/GB/month

Disaster Recovery –

In a situation where the user enables the disaster recovery feature, an instance of Azure FHIR API is a certain Azure paired region. This results in the doubling of charges for the service.

Beneficial Features of Azure API for FHIR:

The following are the beneficial features of the Azure API for FHIR:-

  • The user can begin running an enterprise-grade fully managed FHIR service within a short span.
  • The Healthcare records can be managed in the API cloud.
  • The process of providing certain Healthcare services through telecommunication is also possible.
  • The Protected Health Information is managed within the cloud environment.
  • The security to such vulnerable Healthcare data is ensured to grain access.
  • The introduction of artificial intelligence in healthcare also enables the process of providing healthcare to patients in remote environments.
  • The Azure IoT Connector is also known as Azure IoT Connector for FHIR  is an optional feature that allows the user to ingest data from the Internet of Medical Things or IoT.

Saving Protected Health Information from online threats: An Azure perspective

healthcare APIs

The Protected Health Information is required to be essentially protected from online threats. To do so, the user companies that migrate to the cloud environment of Azure are required to configure their Azure solutions according to the compliance regulations put forth by HIPAA. This can be ensured by following the below-mentioned steps:-

  • Creating a compliant cloud environment architecture
  • Forming a robust review mechanism for the development stage software the applications.
  • Hiring a qualified security specialist who can perform complete security audits with scrutiny.
  • Assessing risk and vulnerabilities in the process of encrypting data.
  • Strengthening the cloud as well as application environment by shifting to rules-based processing and enforcing re-authentication facilities.

Data storage through role-based access control:

The process of storing data in the role-based access control consists of assigning data plane access when the users are managed within the Azure Active Directory tenant. The format about the Azure API for FHIR can be completed in the following manner:-

  • Configuring the Azure Role-Based Access Control model – The Authority should be set within the Azure Active Directory tenant.
  • Assignment of roles – Find the Access control (IAM), select Role Assignments and click on +Add. In the role selection area, find the built-in roles in relevance to the FHIR extensible data models. Finally, within the select box, click on the user or service principal the role is to be assigned.

HIPAA Compliance and the Azure API for FHIR:

Azure API For FHIR

The term HIPAA is the abbreviated form of The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It is a Healthcare regulation in the United States of America. The act consists of certain features dealing with the use, disclosure, and safekeeping of individual health information within electronic health record systems. Several entities fall within the purview of the act including offices of doctors, hospitals, and other companies related to the healthcare sector. Such entities need to ensure the fact that they are operating according to the HIPAA Compliance requirements.

Before beginning to work with Azure, the user company is required to enter into an agreement termed as Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with Microsoft. This is because the Azure Government is Azure compliant. But, entering into this agreement does not imply HIPAA compliance certifications. Thus, all entities in the Healthcare sector are required to have specific Healthcare API and proper compliance programs to ensure its alignment with HIPAA compliance.

Secure Management process of PHI within Azure:

Healthcare API Integration

To ensure the security of the Healthcare data that is termed as Protected Health Information or HPI, Microsoft Azure designed a comprehensive process known as Azure Blueprints. The blueprint is structured to provide the process of deploying an end-to-end secure health solution containing PHI. This includes the following parts:-

  • A distinct example of a use case
  • Template for Deployment and Automation Scripts for compliant cloud environment
  • Threat model in relevance to cyber security
  • The matrix describing customer responsibility
  • Compliance report from external sources.

Innovation in the Health Sector:

The interoperability of data within the Healthcare sector enables the integration of data across organizations. This subsequently results in the patients being less involved in the financial aspect of healthcare and concentrating on recovery and compliance to doctor advice. The process of authorizing the various database operations previously consumed a large part of the physician’s time.

The advanced AI-based processing through the various analytics tools upon the existing data sources leads to decreased paperwork and documentation. As a result, both the physicians and patients can concentrate more upon the processes of diagnosis and recovery.

Azure API for FHIR Consultation: An EPC Group Approach

There are several analytics tools and services available in the market that can help organizations elevate their working patterns and consequently their productivity. But to implement these solutions successfully, they need expert consultation partners that can support and help them through the implementation and integration of analytics tools. In this context, EPC Group is one of the leading consultation partners that provide round-the-clock consultation along with customized training programs for their clients.

Microsoft Azure is currently the leading analytics solution available in the market along with its collection of constituent tools and services. With the growth of Azure as a market leader, the EPC Group has also consistently evolved in its consultation patterns and currently has experience of more than two decades in Azure and Microsoft office 365 consultation. Along with this, the company is a Gold certified partner of Microsoft and consists of a team of Azure consultation experts that guide their clients through the implementation of Azure tools like Azure Blob Storage, Azure Data Lake Analytics, and others which enhance the analytical capabilities of the users

Conclusion:

The FHIR in itself is a revolutionary technique that depicts extreme potential towards making data transmission within the health care sector extremely hassle-free. This implies that the data providers as well as the patients under the health care purview will be able to enjoy the same facilities provided to the consumers in the other industrial sectors. For instance, on one hand, the patients who previously had to maintain multiple portals for organizations using different EHR systems can now have a single comprehensive record of their health history with the integrated data from various formats.

On the other hand, the data providers can enhance their data toolsets to meet the needs for specialty data by extracting data from various research sources. This can later aid their clinical decision-making abilities. In addition to these basic facilities, the Azure API for FHIR aids the rapid exchange of data through the FHIR platform which is based on a platform as a service (PaaS) in the cloud environment. The user organizations can then successfully ingest, organize, manage and transmit data while maintaining the Protected Health Information protocol.

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