At Founda, we've made a strategic choice by embracing FHIR (version R4) as our cornerstone for healthcare interoperability, and that's not just because it's the industry standard. It's because we see the profound benefits it brings to the entire healthcare landscape.
HL7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources - FHIR 🔥 - is the language of global healthcare. Nearly all healthcare systems worldwide operate (to some degree) using FHIR. This means seamless communication with healthcare organizations across the globe - a critical element in today's interconnected world.
Furthermore, FHIR's web-based API suite offers a game-changing advantage. It acts as a bridge, bringing together a multitude of digital health solutions, regardless of whether they have a legion of developers at their disposal. This means no more building one-off connections every time you need to interact with the legacy systems that dominate the healthcare market. FHIR empowers innovation, scalability, and a brighter future for healthcare integration.
FHIR a standard for digital data exchange in healthcare. The base FHIR specification describes a set of base resources, frameworks and APIs that are used in many different contexts in healthcare.
Below we explain the basics of FHIR that you'll need to understand everything in our documentation portal. However, if you're looking for other means to understand FHIR in a simplified manner, you might find the following websites helpful:
- HL7's FHIR Overview: The official HL7 FHIR website offers a "FHIR Overview" section that provides a high-level introduction to FHIR, its key concepts and why it's important in healthcare. Visit: HL7 FHIR Overview.
- ONC FHIR Fact Sheets: The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology offers FHIR fact sheets that were created together with HL7 to educate about FHIR. Visit: FHIR Fact Sheets.
- YouTube Video Tutorials: Search for FHIR introductory video tutorials on YouTube. There are several video creators who provide step-by-step explanations on FHIR concepts and use cases.
FHIR is a technical standard, but these resources aim to simplify it for a broader audience. Starting with these beginner-friendly materials can be a great way to grasp the fundamentals of FHIR before diving into more technical documentation.
So let's dive into some of the basics:
The core of the FHIR standard is its FHIR resources, which refer to standardized data representations of healthcare concepts or entities. Resources are the building blocks of FHIR and they provide a structured way to exchange and share healthcare information in a standardized format. Each resource corresponds to a specific healthcare concept or piece of data, and they are used to represent various aspects of healthcare.
For example, some of the most common resources:
- Patient Resource: Represents a patient's demographic and clinical information, including their name, gender, date of birth, and other relevant details.
- Practitioner Resource: Represents healthcare providers, such as doctors and nurses, and includes information about their credentials and contact details.
- Medication Resource: Contains information about medications, including their names, dosages, and administration instructions.
- Observation Resource: Represents clinical observations or measurements, such as blood pressure readings, lab results, or vital signs.
- Condition Resource: Represents a patient's medical conditions or diagnoses, including information about the condition's status and onset.
- Appointment Resource: Contains information about appointments, including dates, times and participants (e.g., patient and provider).
Each resource comprises metadata, a narrative, extensions, and a body that encapsulates the elements and data types of these attributes. The resource's identity consists of an endpoint, the resource type and a logical ID of the resource. Within FHIR it's possible to group resources together into what's known as a FHIR Bundle - a resource in itself. This Bundle serves as a container for multiple resources, making it convenient to transmit or manage related healthcare data as a cohesive unit.
Let's take the "Patient" resource as an example to explain it's structure in FHIR.
Patient Resource Structure
These are some of the key elements you might find within a Patient resource in FHIR. Each element is defined with specific data types and cardinality, ensuring that data is structured consistently and can be easily exchanged and understood by different healthcare systems and applications. FHIR resources are designed to be both human-readable and machine-readable, making them highly interoperable in the healthcare domain.
If you are interested in reading more about why Founda is standards-based and what communication standards are used, take look at these pages: