HL7 Vulcan Accelerator


There has been a growing need for patient records to be readily available, discoverable, and understandable. To address this need, Health Level 7 (HL7) International, a standards developing organization, developed the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard to facilitate electronic exchange of healthcare information across organizations. HL7 has initiated the FHIR Accelerator Program to specifically connect FHIR with the health information technology user community and to develop partnerships among industry and HL7 standards organizations.  

The first FHIR Accelerator was the Argonaut Project which was developed in 2013 and connected EHR vendors with a few large hospitals. The Da Vinci Project, developed in 2018, responded to a need to establish a rapid multi-stakeholder process for addressing value-based care delivery. The goal of the Da Vinci project was to help payers and providers positively impact clinical, quality, cost, and care management outcomes.

 In 2019, the National Center for Data to Health (CD2H) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS), in partnership with major pharmaceutical companies and academic medical centers, catalyzed the formation of an HL7 FHIR Accelerator group for clinical and translational research. The new Accelerator is called Vulcan (think of the ancient god and a forge) and is being generously administered by the TransCelerate Consortium. The Vulcan Data Accelerator project will define or enhance existing FHIR resources that connect real world data (RWD) with clinical trials and regulated submissions. 

The goals of the Vulcan Accelerator project are to:

  • Bridge existing disparities by closing gaps between clinical care and clinical research to improve patient lives, decrease costs, and improve efficiency;
  • Strategically connect industry collaborators by coordinating strategies among stakeholders and leverage existing work within HL7 and other groups, including TransCelerate BioPharma Inc., the Society for Clinical Data Management (SCDM), Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC), the FDA, NCATS, and others;
  • Maximize collective resources by leveraging community input for return-on-investment and return-on-value that a unified network offers to various parties, and provide comprehensive recommendations to global regulators;
  • Deliver integrated tools and solutions and advance  FHIR Research Resources to their maturity. The Accelerator Program will manage prioritized use cases for secondary use of EHR data that meet interested parties’ needs and goals. 

The Vulcan Project specifically develops preliminary use cases, such as creating a FHIR profile for a research subject from patient resources, and further using those resources to connect adverse events to the profile. The Accelerator Program welcomes input from all impacted communities, particularly the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program whose model is to fund development of FHIR resources and profiles after consensus determination about use case priorities. The Vulcan Project works side-by-side with the HL7 Biomedical Research and Regulation (BR&R) working group. CTSA Program members interested in advancing the use of EHR data for clinical research are encouraged to contact CD2H or join the HL7 BR&R working group

Publishing CTSA Program Hub’s Name
CTSA Program In Action Goals
Goal 5: Advance the Use of Cutting-Edge Informatics