January 31, 2020

What Is FHIR? Overview of FHIR APIs

Digital Transformation
API management

FHIR is accelerating the digital transformation in the healthcare industry. In this blog, we break down:

What Is FHIR?


FHIR, or Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, is a standard for exchanging healthcare information.

FHIR is based on emerging industry approaches and stems from over 20 years of lessons learned around requirements, successes, and challenges gained through defining and implementing other HL7 standards.

What Is a FHIR API?

FHIR creates a common set of APIs so healthcare platforms can communicate and share data across facilities in a manner that each platform can understand. This is similar to how Open Banking and PSD2 create sharing within the financial services industry.

More on FHIR and APIs

Watch the webinar below to learn how to increase revenue with open APIs.


What Is FHIR Comprised Of?

The basic building block of FHIR is a resource. All exchangeable content is defined as a resource. The philosophy then is to build a base set of resources that can either be used by themselves or when combined satisfy the majority of common use cases.

Who Is Involved With FHIR?

The healthcare industry has embraced an Open Source philosophy to accelerate adoption of these standards. HL7 has made the FHIR specification freely available to the FHIR community with no restrictions.

While the FHIR community is large and distinguished — members include the Mayo Clinic, McKesson, athenahealth, Partners Healthcare Systems, and more — you do not have to be a member to use it. This ensures broader adoption, increases interoperability, and quickens and simplifies implementation as everyone uses and contributes to the specification.

Why Is FHIR Important?

FHIR is important because it acts as a connector to bridge the gaps between all parties that need access to patient data. With data seamlessly shared through open APIs, patient records can be viewed on the fly so the right decisions are made.

Four FHIR Principles

As defined by HL7, the foundation of what is FHIR is grounded by the following principles:

  1. FHIR prioritizes implementation

  2. FHIR provides a flexible framework for interoperability

  3. FHIR keeps complexity where it belongs

  4. FHIR supports but does not mandate tight specifications

These guiding principles are put in place to help FHIR be strong and resilient to various technological advances that occur over time. The FHIR standard allows for different architectural approaches that are appropriate for the given circumstances, whether being used to gather information from a modern or legacy system.

How the Healthcare Industry Can Successfully Leverage FHIR

The healthcare industry, like many other industries, is going through a digital transformation. The digitization of health records has made patient information and care instruction more available, discoverable, and understandable. FHIR has made this process easier and more widespread.

Implementing “The Internet of Things” when it comes to healthcare with FHIR is not just a project for fun. It has life-saving and life-sustaining implications. The transfer of data from facility to facility, and device to device, ultimately can factor into a patient’s health outcome.

On top of better patient care derived from digitization, this electronic initiative also comes as a result of compliance with government regulations following the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Mandate. Compliance with this mandate created the need for managers in healthcare operations, IT, and security to rethink how to interoperate with their partners, as well as how to handle resources internally. It requires a balance of innovation and differentiation, while also keeping healthcare costs down for patients and insurance carriers.

The healthcare industry has become an example of how to open up and collaborate in order to compete on a whole new level. By working together on a standard resource and API definition, the industry has opened up resources to focus on technology and innovations that provide for better healthcare outcomes instead of proprietary integrations and data transformations for hospital technical operations.

How to Manage FHIR APIs With Akana

FHIR enables digital transformation for the healthcare industry. But to be successful, you need the right platform to manage your FHIR APIs.

The Akana API Platform is a comprehensive digital solution focusing on delivery, security, and interoperability. It frees the data locked in EMRs and backend systems, enabling a unified experience for patients, hospitals, specialist, labs, and many others who participate in a patient’s treatment.

How It Works

The Akana API solution focuses on the complete lifecycle of the API, starting with the design stage and continuing through deployment, consumption, and retirement. This full lifecycle API management, along with the integration capabilities of the Akana platform to work with existing and legacy data sources, make Akana well-suited to provide an end-to-end solution for API-enabled healthcare.

How a Large Healthcare Company Uses Akana

A large midwest heathcare provider succeeded in a digital transformation by using Akana. Plus, they delivered an HL7 FHIR server implementation based on the open source HAPI FHIR library with the help of Akana's professional services team. 

Hear from the large healthcare company. Read the case study >>

Get Started

Get started with Akana today. You can request a free 30-day trial to see how Akana will help you manage your APIs and succeed in a digital transformation. Or check out a demo first and see how Akana works. 

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