What is FHIR: A Complete Guide

The Only Guide You Will Need


What the Guide includes

You will get answers for these questions: What is the FHIR standard exactly? What is the FHIR data model? How does it work in healthcare? And how should you implement it in your project?

FHIR: The basics

  • What is FHIR
  • The history behind the FHIR format
  • Key points of the FHIR Manifesto
  • FHIR accelerators
  • Benefits of leveraging the FHIR data standard
  • Edenlab’s experience in FHIR development

FHIR technical components

  • Resources – blocks of the FHIR standard
  • FHIR implementation guides
  • FHIR profiling
  • FHIR servers
  • FHIR integration process
  • Case studies

What is FHIR

FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is a set of standards and requirements that define how healthcare information should be exchanged between different systems or applications.

For example:

    • Patients can only register for medical services through a doctor in person, not online;
    • The declaration signing can be performed only in a hospital;
    • Patients cannot change their data or/and manage access to their medical data without a doctor;

e-Prescription and e-Referral are available only as codes in SMS. Patients must read the code from the SMS to obtain medicines or services at the medical facility. Additionally, doctors must print paper versions of the documents to ensure patients can see the precise prescription.

All these data exchanges should be performed not only securely but also in compatible formats to ensure correctness and eliminate any possibility of mistakes.

The FHIR standard includes specifications for data formats, communication protocols, and security mechanisms that ensure safe and effective healthcare data sharing. In other words, it provides a common language and framework for exchanging information between healthcare apps and systems.

FHIR developed a list of prniciples known as the FHIR Manifesto, which includes, but is not limited to, the following points:

Focus on implementers
FHIR prioritizes the needs of those who will implement and use data in the real world. This means the standard is designed to be practical, easy to learn and use, relevant to the needs of healthcare organizations and patients, and can facilitate the safe, secure, and efficient exchange of healthcare information.

Leverages existing technologies
This means using existing technologies rather than creating entirely new systems to avoid duplicating efforts. FHIR is made over HTTP protocol and adheres to the RESTful approach of API design. These technologies are widely used by the community of implementers to stick to the familiar layer protocol.

Information readability
All data represented in the context of the FHIR format is human-readable. Even the coded parts of the information are modeled to be as easily understood as possible. Even if an IT system cannot process data for some reason, the end-user can find the logic in the encoded information of the standard.


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FHIR for healthcare: shaping the future

It becomes increasingly evident that FHIR holds a pivotal role in the healthcare industry, and here's why it has become so: 


Standardized framework

FHIR provides a modern and standardized framework specifically designed for healthcare. It facilitates the seamless sharing of healthcare information across different systems, organizations, and devices, promoting interoperability and data liquidity.


Flexibility and integration

FHIR offers a flexible and extensible data model that can easily integrate with existing healthcare systems and technologies. Its use of modern web-based standards like RESTful APIs and JSON makes it developer-friendly and adaptable to advancements.


Patient-centric care

FHIR promotes patient-centric care by enabling individuals to have better access to their health records and actively participate in their healthcare journey. It supports exchanging structured and meaningful data, facilitating better clinical decision-making, care coordination, and population health management.


Innovation and collaboration

FHIR fosters innovation and collaboration within the healthcare ecosystem. Its open and community-driven development process encourages the creation of a vibrant ecosystem of applications, tools, and services built on top of FHIR. This fuels advancements in healthcare delivery, research, and analytics.


Industry adoption

The FHIR data standard has gained significant traction and widespread adoption across the healthcare industry worldwide. It is supported by major healthcare organizations, technology vendors, and government agencies. This widespread adoption creates a strong network effect, making it more challenging for alternative standards to gain similar momentum.


Global consensus

FHIR has emerged as a global standard for healthcare interoperability, with broad consensus from industry experts, standard organizations, and regulatory bodies. Its development is guided by a collaborative and transparent process incorporating input from diverse stakeholders. This robust standardization and broad consensus ensure its stability and longevity.

FHIR holds great potential for transforming the healthcare industry even further

As FHIR adoption expands, we can expect a more connected, data-driven, and patient-centric healthcare landscape, as well as an increased focus on FHIR-based regulations, driving the industry towards more standardized and compliant practices.

This is why, for any healthcare organization, it’s important to stay abreast of FHIR developments and actively embrace the FHIR standard in their systems and workflows.

After reading this guide, you will:

  • Understand what FHIR is, its value, and its impact on healthcare
  • Learn about the current state of FHIR and its perspectives for further development
  • Learn how FHIR facilitates interoperability through health data regulations
  • Understand the main principles and ideas behind FHIR that turned it into the new leading standard in healthcare
  • Learn how and why FHIR is different from other health data standards
  • Learn about various FHIR community initiatives that contribute to global healthcare interoperability on multiple levels
  • Learn in-depth about the technical components of FHIR and how they work together to ensure a seamless data exchange
  • Learn about different types of FHIR implementation and understand which one is better suited for your project
  • Understand how FHIR validates data to ensure accurate and quality data
  • Learn what FHIR resources and FHIR profiles are and how to create them
  • Understand what features are important to look for when choosing an FHIR server
  • Get a list of useful tools for FHIR-compliant data management

Why do we talk about FHIR?

Edenlab is a custom software and product development company that provides healthcare data interoperability solutions based on the HL7 FHIR standard. We help healthcare companies with interoperability, compliance, and movement to new standards.

Our expertise: we run national system systems (35M+ patient records) and put them into production.With thoughtful knowledge of the domain and experience in working with complex high-load projects, we created the Kodjin Interoperability Suite — FHIR-based software solutions that help our clients get the maximum advantage out of a project’s cost.

The Kodjin Interoperability Suite includes

Kodjin FHIR Server

Created by our team for high-load systems (including national systems)

Kodjin Terminology Service

Software that helps effectively manage complex standard and proprietary terminologies.

Kodjin DATA Mapper

An interoperability FHIR tool to map and transfer healthcare data elements from any format to FHIR.

Edenlab’s healthcare data management and interoperability solutions help customers receive the most value out of a project’s cost. You can rely on our expertise in the domain and expect the best outcome using Edenlab’s custom FHIR solutions designed for complex high-load projects.

This is why, for any healthcare organization, it’s important to stay abreast of FHIR developments and actively embrace the FHIR standard in their systems and workflows.


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What is the FHIR standard?

The FHIR standard is a modern and flexible standard for sharing electronic healthcare information developed by HL7 International. It provides a set of specifications, resources, and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) for exchanging and managing healthcare data in a standardized and interoperable manner.

FHIR is designed to be flexible, scalable, and user-friendly, utilizing modern web-based technologies like RESTful APIs and JSON. It is designed to facilitate interoperability, simplify integration, and enable health data exchange between different systems and stakeholders in a standardized and structured format.

What is FHIR used for in healthcare?

FHIR is used for enhancing data exchange and interoperability among diverse systems and applications. It enables the secure and efficient sharing of patient information, including medical records, clinical data, and administrative data, across various healthcare settings and platforms. FHIR facilitates seamless integration between healthcare systems, fosters standardized data exchange, and drives the development of innovative healthcare applications and services. Its pivotal role is advancing interoperability, promoting data sharing, and enabling patient-centered care in the healthcare industry.

How does FHIR work?

FHIR defines a set of standardized resources and interactions for exchanging healthcare information between different systems. Each resource is meant to represent a specific type of healthcare information, e.g., the patient resource contains information about the patient, such as name, date of birth, contact information, etc. To further enable interoperability, FHIR resources can be stored in popular data formats such as JSON and XML.

What is the difference between HL7 and FHIR?

When talking about HL7 standards, we primarily mean HL7 v2 and HL7 v3, which have been widely used in healthcare for many years.

FHIR, on the other hand, is a newer standard that utilizes modern technologies, such as APIs, to facilitate healthcare information exchange. The FHIR data model is resource-based, while HL7 V2 is message-based, meaning HL7 v2 uses a message-based approach where a single message contains all the information necessary for a particular transaction.

FHIR uses a resource-based approach where different resources are combined to represent a complete clinical scenario.

What is the difference between FHIR and REST API?

FHIR is a healthcare interoperability standard specifying how data should be structured and exchanged. It focuses on healthcare-specific resources and models, using modern web technologies like RESTful APIs. In contrast, REST API is a general architectural style for designing networked applications, enabling communication and data exchange across different systems using standard HTTP methods. The FHIR standard, implemented with RESTful principles, facilitates interoperability and data exchange in healthcare systems.

What are the functions of FHIR?

FHIR’s main function is to enable the exchange of healthcare data between different healthcare systems and organizations in a standardized format. This facilitates the interoperability of healthcare systems, allowing for seamless data sharing and collaboration.

FHIR also enables clinical decision support by providing a standard way to represent clinical knowledge and guidelines, making it easier for healthcare providers to access and use decision support tools. Furthermore, FHIR enables patients to access and control their health data, empowering them to be more involved in their own care. This can lead to better health outcomes and improved patient satisfaction.

What are the core capabilities of FHIR?

FHIR offers core capabilities that include resource-oriented data organization, standardized data elements, modular and extensible design, RESTful APIs for data exchange, interoperability standards integration, and implementation guides for streamlined implementation and interoperability. These capabilities enable efficient data exchange, promote interoperability, and support the development of innovative healthcare applications and services.

What is the future of FHIR?

The future of FHIR looks promising, as it continues to gain adoption and support across the healthcare industry. Its adoption is bolstered by various government regulations, such as the 21st Century Cures Act (USA), which makes its use mandatory to prevent information blocking. As the standard matures and evolves, it will likely play a key role in improving healthcare interoperability and data exchange.

What are the benefits of FHIR for hospitals?

FHIR provides the following benefits for hospitals:

– Improved interoperability: FHIR enables a standardized approach to exchanging healthcare data, improving interoperability between healthcare systems and organizations: This can help hospitals to coordinate care better and share information with other healthcare providers.

– Faster data access: FHIR’s RESTful API allows healthcare providers to access data quickly and easily, which can improve clinical decision-making and patient outcomes.

– Reduced costs: FHIR can help to reduce the costs associated with data integration, as it provides a standardized approach to exchanging data that is easier and more efficient than many legacy systems.

– Improved patient engagement: FHIR can support patient engagement by enabling patients to access and control their own health data, which can help to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.

What are the benefits of FHIR for patients?

FHIR provides the following benefits for patients:

– Improved access to healthcare data: FHIR enables patients to access their own health data more easily and to share their data with other healthcare providers.

– Better care coordination: Improved care coordination between healthcare providers with FHIR leads to better outcomes for patients.

– Improved patient treatment: FHIR can help to improve patient safety by enabling healthcare providers to access up-to-date and accurate patient information, which can help to prevent medical errors.

Let`s chat

We would be glad to share more details about our enterprise-level FHIR software solutions and other cases based on the HL7 FHIR standard.

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    The Ultimate Guide to FHIR

    The Ultimate Guide
    to FHIR

    The Only Guide You Will Need

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