What Does FHIR Stand For?


FHIR, Deciphered


FHIR stands for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources. Let’s break this down one word at a time:


This one’s easy and obvious.Fast interoperability is critical to making patient information available where it’s most needed during a patient’s care. FHIR messages can be parsed by wire data analytics platforms for real-time data gathering. It doesn’t get any faster than “real time.”


“Healthcare” refers to health and medical systems, including providers, that deliver medical services.


“Interoperability” is the ability of different information systems to connect across organizational boundaries to access, share and use data. Interoperability in healthcare refers to the seamless and secure exchange of electronic health information between authorized users (e.g., providers, payers, consumers), all of whom may be utilizing different and potentially inconsistent systems and structures of data.


“Resources” refer to any content that is exchangeable. As the building blocks that can be incorporated in existing systems, each resource includes a standard definition and human-readable description about how to use it, as well as a set of common and resource-specific metadata (attributes). FHIR resources can store or exchange clinical and administrative data. The aim is to create a framework that can be interpreted by any system, in a variety of applications (including mobile apps, cloud communications, EHRs, and more). Resources are based on the following structures:

  • XML
  • JSON
  • HTTP
  • Atom
  • OAuth


What FHIR Means For Healthcare

FHIR is an interoperability specification for the electronic exchange of healthcare information. Developed by Health Level Seven International (commonly known as HL7), FHIR is a standard describing data formats and elements and an application programming interface. FHIR seeks to be the next-generation foundation by which electronic health records (EHRs), digital health applications, and consumers use and exchange structured healthcare data.