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What is FHIR?

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HL7® FHIR® (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is the latest HL7 standard, and offers much more flexibility than its HL7 predecessors. Thanks to its suitability for all forms of data communication in healthcare, it is increasingly used for healthcare data exchange.

Its low-threshold use of existing web technology means it offers interesting opportunities for mobile apps and other internet applications: for patients and healthcare providers, in the hospital, at home, or in the field. The government has also been turned on to the potential of FHIR, calling for the standard to be used for sharing laboratory results and digital prescriptions, amongst other applications.

Modern web technology

FHIR’s strength lies in its flexibility and simplicity. It uses modern web standards such as RESTful APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) and XML (eXtensible Markup Language) for data exchange. This means that FHIR can be deployed in different environments, including mobile apps, web applications, electronic medical records, and more.

In terms of the technology used, FHIR doesn’t build on HL7v2 and HL7v3. However, it incorporates everything from these earlier standards, both functionally and in care content.

Resources and attributes

FHIR uses a set of standardised building blocks called “resources” to organise various health information elements. For example, a resource can refer to patients, admissions, medications, diagnoses, laboratory results, appointments, treatments, etc.

All resources have a unique identifier; they are then structured according to a common set of data elements or “attributes”. Resources may also have relationships between themselves. For example, a “Condition” resource may refer to a specific patient and indicate which medical condition they have. References like these help connect related data, and build a more complete picture of a patient’s health.

Why FHIR?

  • FHIR is a modern standard that allows health data to be exchanged in a consistent and structured way between healthcare providers in various settings: hospitals, rehabilitation centres, patients’ homes, etc. They can thus make informed decisions for their patients and support them better.
  • FHIR ensures interoperability; terminology standards such as LOINC, SNOMED CT, ICD etc. are closely linked to FHIR for ‘unity of language’.
  • Information exchange through FHIR enables support for commonly used data models, such as OMOP for storing data, or Azure for data lakes.
  • FHIR is suitable for mobile technology, linking different applications and devices.
  • Developers can easily master the technology even if they have no experience in healthcare. They can handle a RESTful web service faster than FTP or TCP/IP-socket (MLLP)-based communication of a text file with an unreadable structure. And there is excellent documentation available within a large international community of users.
  • FHIR reduces the “traditional” complexity and costs of developing and managing health information exchange applications. Despite its relative simplicity, the comprehensive standard allows a tailor-made approach.

You can find more information about FHIR at www.hl7.org/fhir.

Amaron’s FHIR Station

Amaron has a strong foundation for optimising the benefits of FHIR, thanks to the countless interfaces we have created between systems in many healthcare institutions. We know all the ins-and-outs of the messages, which means we are ready and able to set up FHIR Stations in all these institutions. This will open up the world of a.o. HL7 V2 messages for new applications and services that support FHIR, among other opportunities.


Are you ready to set your healthcare organisation on FHIR?

Then contact us at: connect@amaron.be.