Onyx Technology and AMA Innovations partner to build interoperability tool for healthcare providers and social care networks

Onyx Technology and AMA Innovations, a technology development subsidiary of the American Medical Association, are joining forces to develop an HL7 FHIR-based interoperability platform to connect healthcare providers and social care networks.

The partnership is in response to the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living’s Innovative Technology Solutions for Social Care Referrals challenge.

Through their collaboration, Onyx and AMA Innovations plan to build a secure messaging system that supports FHIR-based application programming interfaces to link the directories of healthcare providers and social service organizations.

Called FIRE Wire, the solution will allow physicians and their teams to share messages, referrals and patient data with community-based organizations.


While stakeholders have pushed for a more holistic model of healthcare for a number of years, the COVID-19 pandemic made this a more concerted effort. It has illuminated just how impactful the social determinants of health are to health outcomes.

Specifically, in this pandemic, social factors such as socioeconomic level, physical environment, and race and ethnicity have been linked to COVID-19 outcomes. Individuals who live in shelters, those who are exposed to smoke and people who reside in predominantly Black communities all had higher rates of COVID-19 and adverse outcomes, according to a report in The Lancet.

“The effect of social determinants of health and COVID-19 morbidity is perhaps underappreciated,” the report said. “Yet, the great public health lesson is that for centuries pandemics disproportionately affect the poor and disadvantaged.”


The ACL’s challenge was born from the realization that providing community-based social services can reduce healthcare costs while improving health outcomes. With this challenge, the ACL is attempting to bridge medical care and social services to improve efficiency and outcomes.

The challenge will compete in three phases, with cash prizes awarded in each phase. The total prize pool available is $500,000.

Community-based referral programs are a common method used by healthcare organizations to address health inequalities. Independence Blue Cross and Signify Health recently launched CommunityLink, a community-based organization network targeting the social determinants of health in the Philadelphia region. Elsewhere, RWJBarnabas Health, in collaboration with NowPow and ConsejoSano, created the Health Beyond the Hospital program that refers patients to community-based services.

Other initiatives to address the social determinants of health include donating resources. Last summer, UnitedHealthcare donated $12.3 million to community-based organizations across 21 states as a part of its Empowering Health commitment.


“AMA Innovations’ reach into [the] medical community’s unique knowledge-base and its expertise in delivering clinically relevant solutions, combined with Onyx’s unique expertise with FHIR, will allow us to deliver on the next level of health data sharing while complying with applicable privacy law and best practices,” said Dr. Tom Giannulli, the AMA Innovations vice president.

“FIRE Wire is a lightweight, standards-based messaging and directory solution designed to facilitate [a] secure, private, point-to-point patient information and referral exchange between individuals across organizations. With FIRE Wire, physicians and others will be able to easily establish trust and exchange messages and structured health information.”

Twitter: @HackettMallory
Email the writer: mhackett@himss.org

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