What is FHIR ?


Working in healthcare domain is completely different experience to me who has worked mostly in Oil and Gas or Manufacturing domain. Lot of terminologies and hyper sensitive data. Every time we take any scenario, any use case, we can directly relate to ourselves. Post Covid, everyone became health cautious, even heard about lot of health related terminologies which were never heard of. For ex. with my limited knowledge, I could never thought of a CT scan of chest as I was always under assumption that if someone has serious head injury then doctors suggest for CT scan 😀.

Anyways its completely different story and I do not want to go through that angle now.

Just wanted to share what I have learned recently in very short span of time

Now a days, as doctor’s prescribe and we go for different tests like, laboratory tests, radiology tests etc and we get the report in a hardcopy document, or in advanced diagnostic centers we also get a soft copy of the same. Now we are expecting much more advanced digital reports. All this data is called as clinical data of the patients.

When we are talking about healthcare domain, below are the various personas,

  • Patient
  • Healthcare team
  • Providers(Clinicians)
  • Payer(Insurance coverage)

Patient’s clinical history data is stored in different formats by different organizations which becomes difficult if we need to refer any data for better diagnosis, better treatment, insurance payments, it was becoming difficult to everyone to understand the data . To address this problem, in US it is mandated to follow a common framework for all healthcare data which is called as FHIR (pronounced as fire). It is been predicted that FHIR standard would be adapted by maximum healthcare organizations and it would be a key in digital transformation projects in IT industry.

With increasing number of health monitoring devices, there is huge data available about patient’s health for better analysis / diagnosis and medical research. And when we talk about the PHI, Patient’s Healthcare Information , it is most sensitive and confidential data we can cater to. Hence when we talk about digital transformation for healthcare , we should always take care of the data interoperability, data security and compliance from the day one.

What is FHIR? Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources is a open source data framework for healthcare and not a data standard. It is a foundation and API specifications for exchanging the healthcare data models . It consists of tools and servers for building and interacting with those APIs

Open source standard allows the medical community to collaborate and evolve this standard to continue to grow and enhance. It has definitions for exchange the APIs, it gives all the specifications which secures the data transfer of EHI (Electronic health information)

The FHIR API consists of data formats and elements known as resources. Few of the resources are as mentioned in below snippet

Above resources can be exchanged using Application programming interface (API)

For exchanging the resources API uses a modern web based suit of technology including an HTTP based RESTful protocol, JSON and XML

FHIR brings all the asymmetrical Health data from disparate systems together as mentioned in below snippet

  • Standardize semantics and data exchange into a common definition
  • Secure pipeline for Protected Health Information (PHI)
  • Creates consistency across the health ecosystem
Asymmetrical Health Data from Disparate systems

That is it for now on FHIR, keep learning !!