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Nearly everyone with a role to play in healthcare should know what HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is by now. However, a cloud of mystery hovers around FHIR and the healthcare industry has been reluctant to change gears. At least that was FHIR’s story a few years ago.
Today, there’s lots of buzz about FHIR. You might find it everywhere from federal agencies to major technology companies with healthcare at their core. Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, and Oracle have all thrown their considerable weight and cloud-based resources behind FHIR and improving interoperability in healthcare. The underlying concepts behind FHIR are important drivers of the push towards interoperability.
There are a variety of resources that offer insights on FHIR, from articles examining the potential of FHIR in electronic health records to implementation case studies, predictions on the path forward, and more. If you’re looking to enhance your understanding of FHIR, learn more about how it’s being used (and whether those implementations are successful), or even gain some technical expertise about how to put it to use, you’ve come to the right place. We scoured the web and tracked down 50 of the best sources of FHIR information, from podcasts to whitepapers and fact sheets. You’ll find something on our list whether you need technical help or just a better understanding of FHIR.
- Articles Focused on FHIR
- Podcasts Related to FHIR and Interoperability
- Case Studies on FHIR
- Blogs Covering FHIR
- Forums Discussing FHIR
Articles Focused on FHIR
This article does an excellent job outlining the history of FHIR and giving you an overview of it. If you need a brief primer on FHIR, this article may be all you need to get your mind wrapped around it. This article takes a no-nonsense look at FHIR, so expect to learn the good and bad points along with some of the author’s opinion.
Three key takeaways from “A Brief History of FHIR and Its Impact on Connectivity:”
- An excellent look at the pros and cons of FHIR
- An insightful look at the future of FHIR
- Plenty of links if you need more information
This is technically a thesis that resulted from a comparison study of openEHR and FHIR. Since openEHR is growing rapidly in popularity, especially in places where healthcare services might be limited or severely underfunded, it may be a better option for some providers. The openEHR software is an open source, flexible standards solution but lacks the support enjoyed by FHIR.
Key takeaways from “A Comparative Analysis of HL7 FHIR and openEHR for Electronic Aggregation, Exchange and Reuse of Patient Data in Acute Care:”
- Learn when FHIR or openEHR might be better suited for some tasks and environments
- See real comparison data instead of a speculative analysis
- Spoiler: FHIR wins because it’s easier to learn and implement
SMART helps people develop medical apps using a suite of open source tools. Integrating FHIR into these apps is a logical step and could turn out to be a solution to some development problems. In short, SMART lets you build apps for any clinical data system and this article provides an excellent overview of SMART on FHIR.
Key takeaways from “Everything You Need to Know About SMART on FHIR:”
- SMART and FHIR helps to bring apps and data together
- Plenty of helpful links for a deeper look at SMART and FHIR
- Understand the best starting points and reasons for using both technologies
This article is a little dated, but it’s an excellent overview of why FHIR is the logical next phase in interoperability in healthcare. It highlights several good points around FHIR and how modern app development for web services is critical to interoperability.
Key takeaways from “FHIR and the Future of Interoperability:”
- FHIR is the future of healthcare data exchange
- Apps may further improve how healthcare data is accessed
- FHIR’s future depends on innovators and developers
This article discusses an excellent point; validation is necessary to ensure that FHIR-based apps and testing tools provide a solution to this often-overlooked part of development. Using several tools for validation and testing helps to make sure apps remain standardized.
Key takeaways from “FHIR Testing Tools Can Foster Interoperability, Health Data Exchange:”
- Testing and validation is critical for developing with FHIR
- Using multiple testing methods is the best choice
- Test often to make sure you’re staying within the standards
Training is ultimately the crucial factor in everything from clinical decisions to interoperability. FHIR may be the easiest standard to come along, but the learning curve is still pretty steep. Training speeds up everything from development to implementation, and it makes life easier on end users. The early stages are usually the most critical for training.
Key takeaways from “FHIR Training: The early Steps of Mastering HL7 FHIR:”
- Digital health services are necessary to provide the best patient care
- FHIR uses old and new terms you need to learn before you start using it
- Get training to keep from falling behind
This article offers an excellent explanation of what FHIR is and what it is not in its current state. The article is from 2018, but FHIR, including the latest release as of this writing, remains pretty much what this article claims. Pros and cons like the ones in this piece give you the insight you need to make decisions about moving forward with FHIR.
Key takeaways from “FHIR: the Present and the Future of Health IT:”
- The FHIR community is strong and growing
- FHIR is mostly backward compatible with other standards to an extent
- FHIR lacks solid backward compatibility with its previous versions
This article from early 2018 speaks to the power of FHIR and why everyone is scrambling to get in during the early stages of FHIR growth. Granted, FHIR is a little older now and making strides, but for beginners, it may seem young.
Key takeaways from “Health IT Is On FHIR: Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources for Beginners:”
- Excellent explanation of FHIR for beginners
- Outlines some of the potential of FHIR
- Good links for more reading
FHIR is something that could gain wider adoption soon, so understanding it is critical to many jobs. This article helps explain how to learn FHIR if your expertise falls outside development. This perspective is rare among the content focused on FHIR, which makes it a valuable tool.
Key takeaways from “How I Learned HL7 FHIR as a Clinician Without Losing My Mind:”
- Helps shed some light on the side of FHIR that isn’t technical
- Explains the training process the author followed
- Understand some of the basics of how FHIR works
This article looks at how FHIR might be used to help bridge gaps, specifically in radiology. The article is detailed and technical. It helps you see how FHIR might be used in real-world scenarios, plus it ends with a lot of excellent reference material to check out.
Key takeaways from “Patient-Centered Radiology with FHIR: an Introduction to the Use of FHIR to Offer Radiology a Clinically Integrated Platform:”
- A background on FHIR and its purpose
- Guide to setting up a test version
- Examples of metrics and screenshots of FHIR at work
This article examines the need for a standard data transfer method in radiation oncology and makes a case for FHIR to take over as the standard. It’s behind a paywall, so you have to buy it outright or become a member.
Key takeaways from “Radiation Oncology Needs to Adopt a Comprehensive Standard for Data Transfer: The Case for HL7 FHIR:”
- Radiation oncology needs a better method of exchanging data with providers
- FHIR is the logical standard radiation oncology needs
- Underlines some alarming gaps in data access
You have to sign up to access this article, and the end result is a small marketing bit. However, the outline and insight you get from the article is worth the ten seconds you spend signing up. The guide can help you get started building a plan to develop FHIR apps or systems. The article is aimed at technology vendors, but the information may help providers as well.
Key takeaways from “What Health Systems Can Gain from FHIR Adoption:”
- You need to evolve and innovate
- FHIR helps you innovate without the need for complicated end-user training solutions
- If you’re not a vendor, talk to them about developing around FHIR
Like the article states, patients should always come first, and FHIR is one way to ensure every provider that sees a patient has the full picture of their health. Patients are also looking for ways to get involved with their healthcare and health-related decisions.
Key takeaways from “Why FHIR, APIs, and apps are the future of interoperability:”
- Patients want to get involved in their healthcare
- FHIR is the future of interoperability
- Skepticism may be the only thing holding FHIR back
Health IT Analytics examines how providers are facing challenges in the quest to make health data interoperability a functional reality, and how EHR vendors are setting their sights on FHIR.
Key takeaways from “Why Health Data Interoperability is Setting EHR Vendors on FHIR:”
- Many providers feel shortchanged by EHR vendors
- A lack of interoperability is at the root of most challenges
- Information blocking is a nuisance in the healthcare community
Podcasts Related to FHIR and Interoperability
Sponsored by Sansoro Health, the 4×4 Health Podcast is focused on healthcare IT. It covers everything from how AI is changing healthcare to the benefits of adopting FHIR. As of this writing, the 24 episodes online cover important topics worth listening to, and you can listen on your way to work, at the gym, or anywhere.
Three episodes we like from 4×4 Health Podcast:
- API 101 – FHIR: A Standard API for Healthcare
- API 101 – An Introduction to APIs
- Automating Healthcare with Artificial Intelligence
This podcast from Datica, formerly Catalyze, touches on every aspect of healthcare from an innovation and technology point of view. Whether you’re looking for FHIR information or a discussion on the latest trends in transforming healthcare, this podcast is an excellent place to start your search.
Three episodes we like from Healthcare Innovators Podcast:
- Charles Jaffe – Why Healthcare Should Expand its View of FHIR
- Dan Munro – Healthcare’s Technology Gamble
- Naomi Fried, Ph.D. – How Digital Health Companies Can Help Pharma Innovate Faster
The Cerner Podcast is a goldmine of healthcare technology information. The podcast is set up in short format where the participants discuss five questions and quit. That format keeps the podcast short enough that you can get in a full episode on your daily commute, but the topics get covered in depth, as well.
Three episodes we like from The Cerner Podcast:
- Health Intersections’ Grahame Grieve on FHIR Open Standards
- Cerner’s Kevin Shekleton on how Open Standards Foster Collaboration in Health IT
- UTH’s Dr. Robert Murphy on the Evolution of Applied Informatics in Health Care
The list of podcasts on this blog is short, but the podcasts come with a wealth of information about healthcare data and working with it. Episodes cover a range of topics from cloud services to managing data formats. It’s an excellent resource for anyone interested in FHIR and healthcare data technology.
Three episodes we like from Let’s Talk Integration:
- Round Table Discussion on FHIR
- Mike St. Jacques on Health Information Exchange
- Toni Skokovic on Managing Multiple Data Formats
EHR Intelligence has a limited list of podcasts, but the episode on “Putting Health IT Interoperability into Action at CommonWell” gives us an excellent overview of what it takes to make interoperability a priority and get it into play.
Key takeaways from “Putting Health IT Interoperability into Action at CommonWell:”
- Real world responses to the value of interoperability in IT
- FHIR was a critical part of the formula
- The quality of care improved almost immediately
This podcast from the education and advocacy group by the same name is run and owned by patients and members. You’re not hearing questions from technology experts or providers; you’re getting input and concerns from real patients iwhile learning about innovative ways to improve patient care and manage their data.
Three episodes we like from Patient Critical Podcast:
- Tim Blake’s on FHIR! Talking HIMSS & Digital Health
- Jesse Hirsh on Data Literacy
- Aidan Scott: Build Digital Health for Everyone
Case Studies on FHIR
This case study compares FHIR to the older standard CDA, underlining the flaws in CDA. The goal was to map out problems and identify gaps in each standard’s methods. That said, CDA sends complete documents that you have to search once you have it while FHIR lets you search for specific criteria, so FHIR is clearly better.
Key takeaways from “A comparison of two Detailed Clinical Model representations: FHIR and CDA:”
- Older CDA formatted data can be transformed into FHIR compatible resources
- It may get complicated to make the transition if you rely on converting CDA data
- Choosing the best standard is critical
This case study looks at some often-overlooked aspects of digital healthcare. The goal was to get an idea of how FHIR performed when integrated into monitoring systems. The study used data from over 130 patients at 14 different healthcare provider locations.
Key takeaways from “Applying FHIR in an Integrated Health Monitoring System:”
- Battery life may be the next healthcare hurdle
- The FHIR API kills batteries slower than previous methods of real-time monitoring
- FHIR developers need to keep security a priority
This case study examines the use of two common data types and how they affect the performance of FHIR. It touches on a lot of other parts of a scenario where multiple data types may come into use, but for the purpose of this article, the FHIR data is the important part.
Key takeaways from “Integrating Structured and Unstructured EHR Data Using an FHIR-based Type System: A Case Study with Medication Data:”
- Standard FHIR modeling is enough for most use cases
- An outline of setting up an NLP pipeline
- Highlights of creating a FHIR setup albeit focused in this case study
This case study looks at ways a patient aid system can reduce the workload on providers by utilizing FHIR data to make recommendations on care. The study was conducted using a system with a FHIR core that collected data and made recommendations over a specific time period.
Key takeaways from “Patients Decision Aid System Based on FHIR Profiles:”
- Patients need to be included in their healthcare decision making
- FHIR is the optimal standard for patient aid systems
- Patient aid systems and FHIR can reduce a provider’s workload significantly
This case study examines the usefulness of FHIR profiles to exchange data based on a family’s medical history rather than a single patient. It demonstrates the power of FHIR but also highlights some gaps in current interoperability standards.
Key takeaways from “Profiling Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) of Family Health History based on the Clinical Element Models:”
- Family medical history under FHIR is only a matter of creating the profiles
- Improving patient care may rely on access to family medical data
- FHIR still has some kinks to iron out
This case study comes with some good talking points on how policies, services, and processes get setup in modern healthcare, and why FHIR is changing some of that for the better. It calls for the much-needed improvement in the way providers use FHIR to access patient data.
Key takeaways from “Services, Processes, and Policies for Digital Health: FHIR Case Study:”
- Providers may find current FHIR apps too technical
- We need to find better ways to express data
- The recommendations in this paper apply to more than FHIR
This white paper investigates how well FHIR integrates with i2b2 and clinical data. This test was aimed at answering some questions about FHIR’s ability to ingest data and add some stress to it. The results were mostly positive, and FHIR utilized the database and clinical data as expected.
Key takeaways from “A Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) layer implemented over i2b2:”
- Underlines how adaptable FHIR can be
- FHIR works well with the HAPI server’s Java engine
- The hard part is building the data pipeline
The beginner stages tend to get skipped over in favor of hurriedly accomplishing a task or getting in on the ground floor of new technology. Primers like this one can help you skip some of the clutter you don’t need to learn and focus on understanding the technology, so you can get to work. In this case, a primer on FHIR answers most of the questions you may need answers to before you get started.
Key takeaways from “Corepoint Health HL7 FHIR Primer:”
- Find out where FHIR might work best
- Find out how FHIR compares to other standards
- Learn more about the future of FHIR
FHIR does an excellent job of ingesting data from various sources in many formats. This paper talks about ways that Direct, an existing federal standard for the exchange of health care data, can work cohesively with FHIR.
Key takeaways from “Direct, DirectTrust, and FHIR: A Value Proposition:”
- Learn how FHIR and Direct can communicate
- FHIR can overtake C-CDA
- Supporting FHIR is at a critical point
This short white paper outlines how interoperability affects a patient. It takes you through each step of Stephan’s story beginning with his visit to his primary care provider and ending with Stephan signing in from home and reviewing his provider’s notes and other data pertaining to his health.
Key takeaways from “EMR Direct: Stephan’s User Story – Connected Care Through HL7 FHIR:”
- Developers are making huge strides with FHIR
- Primary care and emergency care mesh easily under FHIR
- Patients need better access to their health records
Getting started is rarely easy, especially when new technology comes into play. Guides written by people that have suffered through the trial and error portion of learning can make a difference in how fast you learn and if you learn in the correct order. This getting started guide helps you overcome those hurdles and also provides informative resources that can help.
Key takeaways from “FHIR: Your Guide to Getting Started!”
- Get insight into getting started and resources to help you
- Learn about the current state of FHIR
- Find out why adopting FHIR seems stalled
Clinicians and patients are becoming more involved with decisions than at any point in time thanks to new technology like FHIR. However, learning tools and aids often focus on providers and developers specifically which leaves core support and patients on their own to learn.
Key takeaways from “FHIR for Clinicians:”
- An excellent over of FHIR and how it works for end-users
- Learn why FHIR is easier to adapt to compared to older standards
- Learn how clinicians can be a core part of developing for FHIR
If you’re a developer, this white paper might help you find avenues for revenue along with helping you understand FHIR and where it fits in the healthcare realm as well. SMART technology, which helps you build apps faster using open source tools, combined with the FHIR API is a powerhouse of healthcare data exchange.
Key takeaways from “Impact on Healthcare IT and Market Opportunities:”
- FHIR is free to use and develop
- FHIR can be searched like Google or a Word document
- FHIR can handle data outside medical data and bridge gaps
This white paper is from 2017, so some of the information it predicted has already come to pass. In fact, all the predictions, save those intended for the next decade, have been correct. Its value lies in the overview of FHIR and the way it explains the power of FHIR.
Key takeaways from “Pioneering the Use of Clinical Data With FHIR:”
- A side effect of FHIR might be penalty avoidance for compliance issues
- FHIR opens healthcare and patient up like searching for a sweater on Amazon
- Mobile apps are taking center stage and helping patients get more involved in their care
Modern healthcare understands how patient data and family medical history can help providers and patients make better decisions. This white paper gives a very detailed account of how FHIR can be utilized to help providers offer better care and lessen their workload by letting technology educate patients while giving them access to their EHR.
Key takeaways from “Promoting interoperability with FHIR:”
- FHIR makes sharing healthcare data simple
- FHIR can be searched like Google
- FHIR almost eliminates research by providing specifics instead of a complete medical record
This white paper is packed with information on the SMART on FHIR Open Platform. SMART helps you develop apps using open source tools which eliminates a large portion of the cost and speeds up development. FHIR provides an API that basically allows you to search a patient’s health data the same way you might search for an item on Google or Amazon.
Key takeaways from “SMART on FHIR Open Platform:”
- You need to learn more about SMART if you’re a developer
- FHIR makes health data searchable
- FHIR is easier to develop for than any other standard
Innovation is critical to the evolving ecosystem of healthcare and electronic health records. Data stores are growing at breakneck speeds due to increases monitoring and wearables, yet the data is largely dormant. FHIR can help unlock health data and allow patients and providers to make better decisions.
Key takeaways from “Sparking Innovation in Health Information Sharing:”
- Health care needs more innovators
- There’s a giant stockpile of medical data no one is using
- Learn how FHIR can help sift and utilize warehoused data
We like predictions and looking toward the future. Innovation is partially future-centric, because the innovations we make today affect how things get done in the future. Philosophy aside, this white paper looks at the future of interoperability and outlines how FHIR is a big part of it.
Key takeaways from “The future of interoperability: Web APIs & HL7 FHIR:”
- Learn how innovation conquered previous healthcare data problems
- Learn more about web APIs
- The FAQs answer some questions everyone is asking
Blogs Covering FHIR
AEGIS bills itself as a thought leader in healthcare. Their blog covers a lot of topics including FHIR. It’s worth browsing to learn more about how FHIR is changing healthcare.
Three posts we like from AEGIS’s Blog:
- FHIR Testing Helps Healthcare Projects Accelerate Adoption
- Healthcare Interoperability Testing with FHIR Just Got Easier!
- Ready, FHIR, Test! Set your sights on testing
This blog is packed with healthcare information from industry news to technology insights, plus some excellent articles on FHIR and interoperability. We’re sure you’ll find more to read aside from the posts related to FHIR.
Three posts we like from AYASDI Blog:
- Using the HL7 FHIR Standard for Clinical Variation Management
- The Trust Challenge – Why Explainable AI is Not Enough
- The Extraordinary Value of Dark Data
This blog is huge and filled with technical information. The healthcare section isn’t the primary focus, but the healthcare posts we found were good and worth taking a few minutes out of your day to read.
Three posts we like from DXC.technology’s Blog:
- Six ways the patient data explosion is turning healthcare inside-out
- FHIR agility: HL7 is dead, long live HL7!
- FHIR puts actionable clinical decision support into the hands of physicians
42. FHIR Website
This is technically a website and not necessarily a blog, but this is the best place to find resources and learn more about working with FHIR. The resources are excellent, and you’ll find some training opportunities as well. However, a lot of the information is aimed at developers, so it gets technical.
Three useful resources we like from the FHIR Website:
43. Firely Blog
When we searched this blog for FHIR information, the search results ended up being 12 pages worth of content. You may find a little marketing in some of the posts but most of them are packed with useful insights.
Three posts we like from Firely Blog:
- FHIR, the coolest of the uncool
- FHIR is no longer just about interoperability
- Startups in health, here’s your chance to learn FHIR
44. Hay on FHIR
This is a very technical blog aimed at developers. Actually, calling it technical is an understatement. If you’re looking for ideas on developing for FHIR or trying to solve a problem, the answer may be on this blog. It covers things from writing code to creating endpoints.
Three posts we like from Hay on FHIR:
The blog as a whole comes with information relevant to anyone in healthcare. We focused on the FHIR resources and some if it covers often-overlooked topics like the people behind FHIR and other things that technically don’t affect healthcare, but without the developers, FHIR may not exist.
Three posts we like from Healthcare Intersections:
- Clarifications about the FHIR Trademark
- The 3 Legs of the Health Informatics Standards Process
- #FHIR and Cancer Patient Empowerment – Mike’s story
HL7 has more going on than just FHIR, so you’ll find the content on their official blog is varied. However, it’s one of the best places for innovators to learn about FHIR and upcoming events or training. They offer FHIR training for all skill levels, but you may have to wait for some of the classes to open.
Three posts we like from HL7’s Blog:
- What’s Next for Blue Button 2.0 and HL7 FHIR?
- HL7 Publishes FHIR® Release 4
- Collaborations Can Change the World
Most of the posts on FHIR are a few months old, but the information is still solid. Much of the content you find on FHIR leans toward the positive, so it’s nice to see some of the cons getting discussed as well.
Three posts we like from InterSystems Blog:
- Is Your Healthcare Organization Prepared for the Data Tsunami?
- Bottled Up: How Better Information Flow Can Empower Pharmacies and Patients
- Looking to 2018: How the newest innovations are reliant on a tried-and-true standard
48. Light My FHIR
This blog is a little dated, but much of the information is still valuable to developers. You’ll find workarounds and some technical information on coding things for web-based apps and the FHIR API. It’s all technical information aimed at people developing apps for FHIR.
Three posts we like from Light My FHIR:
- Maximizing Reuse in Healthcare Standards
- The Need for Faster Standards Development
- FHIR Profiling Made Easy
Forums Discussing FHIR
This is arguably the most popular forum for FHIR developers on the web. However, the forum isn’t very well organized, so get your keywords ready and plan to use the search feature a lot. The forum is active, and several users are typically online.
Three posts we like from FHIR Community Forum:
- Condition for simultaneously ordered diagnoses
- How to do business intelligence using FHIR
- Representing both short and long description in Coding
The HAPI Java server is one of the first things you find when you search for FHIR on Google after you scroll past the HL7 links. Their Java server has a lot of uses, and they’ve released a version aimed at FHIR that comes with some pre-configured options to help you get started. Their Google Group is the discussion point for all things HAPI, but many of the questions related to FHIR overall.
Three posts we like from HAPI Google Group: