What is Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)?

September 11, 2021 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team

Updated Version - July 28, 2023

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources is also known as FHIR. It is an Interoperability specification that is formulated to exchange healthcare data and information known as "resources" and an application programming interface (API ) for exchanging health records electronically. The standard was created by the Health level seven International (HL7) healthcare standards organization.

API’s are sets of requirements that govern how applications communicate and interact with one another. An API is an interface that provides developers with programmatic access to a proprietary software application. The FHIR has quickly become one of the most popular protocols for joining disparate systems together and holds great promise for the development of an application-based approach to interoperability and health information exchange.

FHIR aims to simply implement without sacrificing information integrity. It leverages existing logical and theoretical models to provide a consistent, easy to implement, and rigorous mechanism for exchanging data between healthcare applications.

Why is FHIR Important?

At the moment, the majority of health information exchange and data interoperability is based on documents. Whether faxed, emailed, or sent electronically, providers typically have to choose a set of data to transmit and then generate a message that contains only that data. While this approach does help organizations successfully communicate, it can be too limiting for meaningful care coordination, decision-making, or data analytics.

Healthcare IT should always be about the patient. To that end, interoperability is the cornerstone of this patient-first perspective - as an important support mechanism for the timely and effective exchange of information critical for delivering patient care, one of many reasons why FHIR is important.

Benefits of FHIR

  • FHIR means better Data Sharing

    Sharing data with patients lets them take more control of their own health and make better decisions about their own medical care. It empowers patients to take ownership of their care.

  • FHIR means better Data Management

    FHIR helps with the management of all the Data like EHR's, Surveys, Vital records, Wearables, etc. It provides us with a standard common target data format, transforming information into a usable form. This common format ensures data integrity, accuracy, and consistency while clarifying ambiguous meanings and minimizing redundant data.

  • FHIR means better Data Mining

    "Data science" refers to how data is automatically mined for insights. The real-life benefits of FHIR for healthcare meet the promise of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

    • Training AI/machine learning models to diagnose a condition.
    • Training AI/machine learning models to recommend the most effective healthcare procedures or medications that can be used to treat a patient.


Like every offering or technology comes with its own pros and cons, so does FHIR. The adoption of FHIR has its own challenges. FHIR is supposed to be sharing and highlighting the similar challenges of HL7 integration, particularly if different versions of them are implemented in different systems than those two systems are not interoperable at all. There are other inconsistencies or lacunas as well that occur when EHR vendors don't implement all the existing FHIR APIs and even in the case, they do, then also they don't implement the entire API. These discrepancies undermine the objective and purpose of attaining interoperability.

API solutions and functionality can make the process seamless and efficient, and one of them is 'Integrate' that is cost-effective and practical and make the process user-friendly in the advanced technological landscape. The Integrate functionality utilizes real-time REST APIs and a vast set of universal and unified data models in order to standardize EHR integration and implementation, offering read and write capabilities and functions with any EHR. It even supports the smooth and consistent exchange of the healthcare data and information in between EHR platforms, administrative and clinical-based applications, rendering crucial real-time access to patient health records or data, without compromising or bearing in the security or authenticity of PHI. All thanks to the technology and Integrate function of the universal APIs along with a unified data model that actually made it possible to not even think about different applications being executed in different FHIR versions anymore. It also leads to the benefit of no more worrying about copying and faxing patient records and distributing them across different health systems and departments collaborating on patient health care. Also, there is no need to wait for the lengthy integration time of the projects now as you can instantly start working on the exchange of healthcare data as per the preference and requirement. And needless to say but FHIR assures and is highly efficient in putting down all the essential information into any workflow and that too in real-time situations to use for clinical decision support and further.

Helpful Information

What is Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)?

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a standard for health care data exchange, developed by the Health Level Seven International (HL7). FHIR leverages existing logical and theoretical models to provide a consistent, easy to implement, and rigorous mechanism for exchanging data between healthcare applications.

Why is FHIR important in healthcare?

FHIR is crucial in healthcare as it improves interoperability between healthcare systems. It enables different healthcare information systems to communicate with each other, and exchange and interpret shared data, which can lead to improved patient care, streamlined processes, and reduced healthcare costs.

What are the components of FHIR?

FHIR is composed of several elements called resources. These are modular components that provide a common definition for discrete pieces of data in healthcare. Examples of resources include patients, practitioners, medications, and diagnoses.

How does FHIR improve patient care?

FHIR improves patient care by facilitating access to comprehensive, up-to-date patient information. By enabling different healthcare systems to communicate and share data seamlessly, FHIR ensures that healthcare providers have all the information they need to provide effective, personalized patient care.

Who develops and maintains the FHIR standard?

The FHIR standard is developed and maintained by Health Level Seven International (HL7), a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited standards developing organization dedicated to providing a comprehensive framework and related standards for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information.

Is FHIR secure?

Yes, FHIR is designed with security in mind and includes features for protecting patient data. However, like any standard, the security of a FHIR implementation depends largely on how it's used. Organizations using FHIR need to follow best practices for data security to ensure that patient data is protected.

How does FHIR compare to other healthcare data standards?

FHIR combines the best features of HL7's Version 2, Version 3, and CDA product lines while leveraging the latest web standards and a focus on implementability. It has been designed to be simpler to implement, more efficient for data exchange, and more flexible than previous standards.

What is a FHIR server?

A FHIR server is a repository that stores healthcare data in accordance with the FHIR data standard. It provides an API for reading, adding, updating, and deleting FHIR resources.

What is FHIR API?

FHIR API is an application programming interface that allows different healthcare systems to communicate with each other using the FHIR standard. It enables the exchange of data between systems in a standardized format, improving interoperability and data integration.

Who uses FHIR?

FHIR is used by healthcare providers, health IT developers, health information exchange organizations, and others who need to exchange healthcare information electronically. This includes hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, pharmacies, and more.

What types of data can FHIR handle?

FHIR can handle a wide range of healthcare data types, including demographic data, clinical data, administrative data, and infrastructure data. This can include everything from patient names and addresses, to diagnostic information, to billing details, and beyond.

How is FHIR implemented?

FHIR can be implemented using various programming languages and can be used in a wide variety of healthcare applications. Implementation involves developing or adapting software to use the FHIR data standard for the exchange of healthcare information.

Is FHIR a global standard?

Yes, FHIR is a global standard that is used in many countries around the world. Its global adoption has been facilitated by the fact that it is an open standard, and it has been translated into many different languages.

How does FHIR support mobile healthcare?

FHIR is designed with modern internet technologies in mind and can be used to support mobile healthcare by providing a standardized way for mobile applications to exchange healthcare data. This can enable functionalities such as remote patient monitoring, telemedicine, and patient access to medical records.

Can FHIR be used for electronic health records (EHRs)?

Yes, FHIR can be used for electronic health records (EHRs). In fact, one of the main purposes of FHIR is to improve interoperability between different EHR systems. FHIR enables EHRs to exchange information efficiently and consistently, which can improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs.

What role does FHIR play in health information exchange (HIE)?

FHIR plays a crucial role in health information exchange (HIE) by providing a standardized format for the exchange of healthcare data. This allows different healthcare systems to communicate effectively, improving coordination of care and patient outcomes.

Can FHIR help with healthcare data analytics?

Yes, FHIR can support healthcare data analytics by providing a consistent and standardized format for healthcare data. This can make it easier to aggregate and analyze data from different sources, supporting activities like population health management, quality improvement, and research.

What is the future of FHIR?

The future of FHIR is promising, as the need for interoperability in healthcare continues to grow. FHIR is likely to become increasingly prevalent as more healthcare providers and IT developers adopt it. In the future, we can expect to see more applications that leverage FHIR to improve data exchange and patient care.


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