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26 March 2024

As Belgium gets ready for FHIR Diagnostic Report, Clinisys is helping lead the way in this innovative initiative

Clinisys

The Belgian government has taken on an ambitious plan to ensure standardized and structured exchange of all laboratory results with GPs’ software packages.

To achieve this, the HL7® FHIR® Diagnostic Report format will be used nationwide, in combination with the LOINC and SNOMED CT terminologies. We at Clinisys are already fully prepared for this transition, and our customers are also getting ready!

Preliminary steps: thorough preparation

Such a radical revolution cannot be achieved overnight, of course. To ensure we were well-prepared from the start, we launched a pilot project in 2021, on the initiative of Agoria (the Belgian sectoral employers‘ organization for technology companies). The aim was to further develop definitions for a structured exchange of laboratory results based on FHIR, and to develop a new translator, with observations coded according to the LOINC model and, in some cases, SNOMED CT.

Two of our customers joined the pilot project: UZ Gent, with Tom Fiers, and CHU Charleroi, with Philippe Cauchie. Both were very closely involved with the development of the translator, which has now been thoroughly and successfully tested!

Work to be done for the suppliers of GP software packages and laboratories

But there was still a lot of work to do in order to adapt the GPs’ software packages, enabling them to receive the messages. Software providers immediately started making the necessary adjustments, and after a year of hard work, the packages were ready for a new test phase in 2023.

Many of our Belgian GLIMS customers were eager to participate in the testing. They installed the new translator and prepared their databases to report results in accordance with LOINC and SNOMED CT, and then share them with the GPs’ packages, in the FHIR Diagnostic Report format.

Belgium leads the way

At some point after the tests are successfully completed, the Belgian government will legally impose that all laboratories in the country transfer laboratory results to GP packages in the FHIR Diagnostic Report format. 

Filip Migom, GLIMS Product Manager, says: „We are very proud that we are at the forefront of the implementation of FHIR Diagnostic Report in Belgium. There is also growing interest in other countries to eventually start using the international coding and standard instead of their own national formats. This will make it possible to exchange laboratory results smoothly, even across national borders.

Thanks to the innovative project currently running in Belgium, we at Clinisys have been able to build up the knowledge and tools that enable us to offer the best possible support to laboratories abroad as well, should they wish to make the switch to FHIR Diagnostic Report.“

Clinisys‘ approach:

„We install the translator and a report template at our customers’ sites, and we give them tools and documentation to be able to work as independently as possible, such as a document explaining the configuration set-up for applying the LOINC and SNOMED CT coding systems. Based on this, the labs can fill in the coding systems with their own properties; e.g., antibiotic units with the relevant code. We also teach them how to test and troubleshoot everything. And we at Clinisys are of course always there for them should they have any questions,“ concludes Nicki Van Driessche, Project Engineer at Clinisys.

Filip Migom

GLIMS Product Manager

Clinisys

We are very proud that we are at the forefront of the implementation of FHIR Diagnostic Report in Belgium. Thanks to this innovative project, we at Clinisys have been able to build up the knowledge and tools that enable us to offer the best possible support to laboratories abroad as well, should they wish to make the switch to FHIR Diagnostic Report.

Did you know?

Clinisys also has a FHIR project running in Germany, which involves reporting infection incidents from GLIMS Microbiology to the RKI infection registration center via DEMIS*, using the FHIR standard. This project is helping us to further get to grips with the FHIR standard, and to build up our expertise.

*DEMIS stands for: Deutsche Elektronische Melde- und Informationssystem für den Infektionsschutz, the German reporting and information system for infection control.

What is FHIR?

FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is a globally recognized standard for exchanging healthcare data between different systems and platforms. It was published by Health Level Seven International (HL7).
FHIR is flexible and uses web standards, so that it can be implemented quickly. Terminology standards such as LOINC, SNOMED CT, UCUM and ICD are closely linked to FHIR for ‚unity of language‘, and can be supported through HL7. These factors together enable the rapid exchange of health information, which is essential for efficient and effective healthcare.

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