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Jun 13, 2021

What is FHIR and why is it important?

An overview of FHIR and its impact on patient care.

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a specification for an API used to exchange healthcare data such as EHRs. It is developed by HL7 and addresses the problem of interoperability of medical information systems.

The FHIR standard covers human and veterinary, clinical care, public health, clinical trials, administration and financial aspects. It supports a wide variety of architectures and scenarios involving the exchange of clinical data as well as healthcare-related administrative, public health, and research data.

Clinical "things" in FHIR

As a RESTful API, FHIR is centered around resources that represent clinical "things". The types of resources include patient, observation, provider, organization, device, and so on. For example, a resource of type Patient contains the patient's name, gender, birth date, as well as some additional information:

  "resourceType": "Patient",
  "text": {
    "status": "generated",
    "div": "<!-- Generated HTML -->"
  "identifier": [
      "use": "usual",
      "label": "MRN",
      "system": "",
      "value": "12345"
  "name": [
      "family": [
      "given": [
  "gender": {
    "text": "Male"
  "birthDate": "1991-02-03",
  "active": true

Bottom line

FHIR allows different healthcare systems and apps to exchange information about clinical "things" including patient, lab, treatment, and other types of data. By speaking the same language, those systems are able to seamlessly integrate with each other and enable better, more consistent, and safer healthcare services.

See also
Help: Eckher FSH Editor
An introduction to Eckher FSH Editor.
Eckher FHIR Viewer
Connect to and browse FHIR-enabled servers.
A network of drugs: The New Zealand Medicines Terminology
An overview of New Zealand's drug vocabulary.
AstraZeneca's knowledge graph: Drug discovery is a lot about connections
The biomedical knowledge graph built by AstraZeneca helps the company find new drugs and drug targets.
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