In conversation with Russell Buchanan

October 12, 2021
In Conversation with: Russell Buchanan

Russell Buchanan is an Industry Leader in Gevity’s FHIR practice and the planning chair for the FHIR North Conference. In September 2021, Gevity joined Accenture, bolstering its health transformation capabilities in Canada and global markets. Gevity delivers innovative technology solutions in areas such as health systems integration, informatics and analytics, and solution implementation and program management.


This year’s conference theme is a nod to the fact that web-based technologies, FHIR in particular, are allowing information to be shared between healthcare providers, patients and insurers in new ways. Many of us receive healthcare-related services from providers in different care settings and organizations. When healthcare providers get a full picture of our medical history and current health condition(s), it helps improve the quality and efficiency of the patient care they provide.


FHIR-based application programming interfaces (APIs) are increasingly being used to securely connect software applications in different systems, allowing for seamless exchange of information from one healthcare setting to another. In some cases, they also allow us, as patients, to access our health records from our phones. The result is that the data residing in different systems at different points of care become increasingly connected by a ‘planet of APIs’. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how interconnected the healthcare system is. The ability to collect, share and use information has been critical to the pandemic response. This isn’t unique to the pandemic. Currently, healthcare providers, hospitals, insurance companies and governments all use different systems to store health-related information. FHIR is a standard that enables those disparate systems to work together and exchange data, while preserving clinical context and meaning. Importantly, FHIR uses web-based technologies that many software developers are familiar with. It supports both traditional event- and document-based data integration patterns familiar to many healthcare IT vendors, as well as the modern RESTful data exchange patterns. That opens a lot of possibilities in healthcare technology. FHIR will enable developers to build new applications to better exchange medical data, helping improve collaboration between providers and overall enhance patient care.

It’s difficult to choose, but here are two I am looking forward to:


Patrick Murta, Co-Chief Architect of the US Office of Health Information Technology (ONC)’s FHIR at Scale Task Force (FAST) will discuss the work that the US is is doing to scale up FHIR solutions. The session link is available here.


The Value of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Standards panel at the start of day two will bring together compelling speakers to talk about how SDOH data standards that include race, ethnicity and gender information are starting to make their way into our digital health solutions where they provide healthcare providers and researchers the ability to see, understand and respond to the needs of people who may otherwise not be visible. The session link is available here.

FHIR North is a great opportunity to ask questions and make connections with others in the Canadian FHIR community. The virtual conference platform offers a number of online tools and channels that attendees can use to connect with speakers and other attendees. Take the opportunity to ask questions during the sessions using the networking features of the platform to meet other members of the community. The Canadian FHIR community is small and friendly, providing an encouraging space for discussion and networking.