FHIR for a HL7 v2 person

It’s pretty easy to explain FHIR to a version 2 person.

Start with a v2 message… and imagine….

  • We’ll give each segment a URL to identify it (it can be a local reference if we want) – now we can treat them independently
  • We can put the segments on a server and get/update them independently now if we want
  • We’ll use XML to represent the segment – using field names
  • We’ll tack on an html representation of the segment for people using systems that don’t understand the segment (like CDA)
  • We’ll put a little z-section at the end of each segment – though you have to publish your extension definitions now
  • We can still exchange messages by tacking all the segments together in a row like a message, with the special message header first
  • Call the segments “resources”

There – done, that was easy. Of course, there’s a couple more things (not a small things):

  • Redefine the list of segments and their contexts because we learnt so much over the last 20 years
  • Strip them down to the parts that people actually use

Still, it’s easy to explain the general principles of FHIR to someone who’s well versed in version 2 in practice.


  1. John Moehrke says:

    How does FHIR deal with Patient ID?

    • Grahame Grieve says:

      A patient resource gets it’s own id – this might be thought of as the internal primary key for the patient for the system. The patient resource has a list of the identifiers for the patient, which corresponds to PID-3. This is where the working identifiers for the patient go

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