Advancing Healthcare: The Power of FHIR Interoperability

FHIR interoperability

Key Takeaway:

  • Facilitates seamless data exchange between healthcare systems
  • Promotes standardized communication in the healthcare industry
  • Enhances patient care through improved information sharing
  • Supports diverse healthcare workflows and use cases

FHIR, or Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, is a standard for exchanging healthcare data electronically. It has been developed by the Health Level Seven International (HL7) organization, and it aims to make it easier for different healthcare systems to share data with each other.

Interoperability is crucial in healthcare, as it enables different systems to work together seamlessly, and it ensures that healthcare providers have access to the information they need to provide the best possible care for their patients. In this blog post, we will explore FHIR interoperability and its importance in the healthcare industry.

What is FHIR?

A draught data standard called the Rapid Healthcare Interoperability Resource was created and supported by HL7 International. The intricacy of healthcare data was taken into consideration when developing FHIR, which uses a cutting-edge, web-based methodology to connect several distinct pieces.

“The goal of FHIR is to create a foundational set of resources that, individually or in combination, may be used to address most typical use cases. The fundamental information set that is shared by the majority of implementations is the focus of FHIR resources “According to HL7’s website.

Similar to the URL of a web page, each data element, or “resource,” has a tag that serves as a special identification number.

According to Micky Tripathi, the former CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative and national coordinator for health IT at the Department of Health and Human Services, “when you order something on Amazon, for example, look at your browser line.” “When you click on something while logged in, you’ll see a URL that begins with “https” and then a long string of meaningless characters. This is a query-retrieve system that your browser creates and sends to Amazon, who then securely and promptly returns the results.”

With any standard browser running on any web-enabled device, whether it’s a smartphone, laptop, or tablet running a Windows, IOS, Android, or Linux operating system, people from across the world can access the same URL and carry out the same actions on the internet.

The same goal of FHIR is to enable developers to create uniform “browser” applications that enable access to data regardless of the EHR “operating system” that supports the user’s infrastructure.

The resource is the key in this. Similar to the Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA), but considerably more versatile, an FHIR resource can be an individual packet of data that contains metadata, text, or specific data pieces, or it can be bundled into collections that produce clinical documents.

According to HL7, “FHIR resources can be used to create documents that represent compositions: a collection of coherent data that is a statement of healthcare information, particularly including clinical observations and services.” A document is defined as “an immutable set of resources with a fixed presentation, created and/or attested by individuals, groups, and/or entities.”

Instead of just sending individual documents back and forth across systems, these information bundles can be given an accessible and standardized URL so that several applications can always point to the same version of the same data.

FHIR Interoperability

FHIR interoperability refers to the ability of different healthcare systems to exchange data using the FHIR standard. This can be achieved in a number of ways, including:

  1. FHIR APIs: FHIR APIs are a way of exposing FHIR resources as web-based services. This allows different systems to access and exchange data using standard web technologies, such as HTTP and REST.
  2. FHIR documents: FHIR documents are collections of FHIR resources that are packaged together into a single document. These documents can be exchanged between systems using standard messaging protocols, such as HL7v2 or HL7v3.
  3. FHIR profiles: FHIR profiles are a way of customizing the FHIR standard to meet the specific needs of a particular healthcare system. This allows different systems to exchange data using a common standard, while still being able to capture the unique requirements of each system.

How FHIR works?

FHIR is based on modern web technologies and uses a RESTful API to exchange healthcare data. FHIR resources are standardized data elements that describe various aspects of healthcare, such as patient demographics, diagnoses, medications, and procedures.

FHIR resources are defined using a Resource Description Framework (RDF) format, which makes them highly interoperable across different systems and applications. FHIR resources can be accessed using HTTP requests and responses, making them compatible with modern web-based technologies.

FHIR also includes a powerful search API that allows developers to query for specific data elements within a resource or across multiple resources. This search API uses a standardized query language called the FHIR Search Language (FSL), which allows developers to build complex queries and filter results based on various criteria.

What does it imply for patients and providers?

Why should healthcare professionals and patients be excited about FHIR? because consumers’ interactions with other internet-based businesses in other industries could become much more comparable to healthcare. From a therapeutic standpoint, it might also help make all those monitoring and wearable technology equipment worthwhile.

The Internet of Things in healthcare is expanding quickly, but there are currently few solutions that can link improved physician processes with patient-generated health data (PGHD).

The millions of FitBits, Apple Watches, Bluetooth scales, blood glucose monitors, diet applications, and fitness trackers that are grabbing so much consumer interest might all be connected via FHIR. This pool of PGHD is expanding daily. Dr. Nick van Terheyden, Chief Medical Officer at Dell, told HealthITAnalytics that it is still meaningless for providers if they cannot quickly and easily access the most important parts of the data.

And in that situation, FHIR might excel. Situational apps created on an FHIR platform may be able to analyze patient-generated health data and show users a summary of trends pertinent to a certain area of managing chronic diseases or patient wellness.

There may be an end to the inconvenience of having three or four patient portals from various organizations utilizing various EHRs for patients who visit multiple clinicians in several health systems. To better coordinate care, these many systems might be connected by a single personal health record that combines data from several formats to offer a full view of all prescriptions, issues, and allergies.

By pulling information from various research sources to strengthen their clinical decision support capabilities or enabling them to send de-identified information to research registries focused on developing a precision medicine approach for the treatment of a rare cancer, providers may be able to tailor their toolkits to meet the needs of their specialty or area of interest.

Regardless of the particular use cases, FHIR completely changed the way developers thought about the technical foundations enabling patient care.

Benefits of FHIR

There are several benefits to using FHIR as a healthcare interoperability standard, including:

1. Better data analytics:

FHIR interoperability enables healthcare organizations to collect and analyze data from different sources, which can provide valuable insights into patient care and population health.

2. Enhanced innovation:

FHIR interoperability can facilitate innovation in healthcare by enabling developers to create new applications and services that leverage healthcare data from different sources.

3. Improved data exchange:

FHIR allows for real-time data exchange between disparate systems and applications, which can help healthcare organizations to better coordinate patient care and improve clinical outcomes

4. Interoperability:

FHIR is a highly interoperable standard, meaning that it can be used across different systems and applications, regardless of the vendor or platform.

5. Standardization:

FHIR provides a standardized approach to exchanging healthcare data, which can help to reduce the complexity and cost of implementing data exchange solutions.

6. Flexibility:

FHIR is a flexible standard that can be customized to meet the specific needs of healthcare organizations, making it an ideal choice for organizations with unique data exchange requirements.


FHIR holds a lot of promise, and the data standard is well-supported throughout the entire care continuum.

Officials from HL7 anticipate releasing the FHIR Version 5 update this year.

According to James Agnew, chief technology officer at Smile CDR and an early adopter of FHIR, “FHIR is poised to become the underlying ‘network’ that underpins health applications worldwide.”

According to study results from the Engine Group conducted in April 2021 under contract with Change Healthcare, just 24% of healthcare organizations currently use FHIR APIs at scale, but 67% of providers and 61% of payers anticipate their organizations using APIs at scale by 2023.

Providers and patients will have access to an exceptionally comprehensive set of functions within their health IT systems as long as FHIR remains the foundation for data sharing.


FHIR is a modern, web-based healthcare interoperability standard that is gaining widespread adoption in the healthcare industry. Its standardized data elements and RESTful API make it highly interoperable and flexible, which can help to improve patient care and reduce the complexity and cost of implementing data exchange solutions. With the increasing demand for real-time data exchange and the need for improved patient outcomes, FHIR is likely to continue to play a key role in healthcare interoperability for years to come.

Arkenea provides healthcare businesses with fully compatible EHR/EMR software. It was developed with compatibility with your organization’s current practice management software in mind. Contact Arkenea if you want further information.