More comments on FHIR documents

With the emphasis on Documents in the coming connectathon, there have been a few questions on the skype chat about that. I suspect that most people who plan to attend connectathon will be monitoring that conversation (if not then you really should!) but just thought I’d post some of them here in case they got missed.

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Decomposing a FHIR document

Scenario 2.3 of Connectathon talks about a server ‘decomposing’ a FHIR document. This is another of those huge topics, as it is all about using the document as a ‘carrier’ for information that is used by a recipient to update their own data stores, rather than simply storing it as a ‘blob’ to be displayed to a user on request.

The issue is not so much a technical one – that’s relatively straightforward (though one of the more complex in FHIR) – but rather relates to the purpose of a document as a ‘summary at a point in time’ – or as a ‘snapshot’, rather than a mechanism to ‘transfer state’.

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Retrieving and rendering a FHIR document

This post is going to be a bit of an anticlimax.

Once we’ve created the FHIR document and saved it via the /mailbox entry point, then we probably want to be able to find it again at some stage (assuming that the reason we saved it was to make it available to others of course). Well, because the server created DocumentReference resources during processing, then we just need to follow the same process that we used when discussing how to retrieve CDA documents using XDS principles – i.e. query the DocumentReference end point, and then get the document using the location property of the individual DocumentReference resource.

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Server processing of FHIR documents: Connectathon

In this post we’re going to think a bit about how the server might process a document that it receives. This is a massive topic, and certainly not one that can be covered in a single post – or by any one individual! Apart from anything else, there are lots of different possibilities – all legitimate in specific circumstances.

This is an important concept for FHIR – it doesn’t seek to drive any particular design or architecture – rather it attempts to support how data is moved around now, and how it may be done the future. It’s up to individual implementations to decide the details, but using common ‘building blocks’.

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Creating a FHIR document for the January Connectathon

I had intended to talk in some detail about the Composition resource next, as this is one of the key resources for a FHIR document, but because the January connectathon is getting close I’m going to do a series of posts to directly support people attending connectathon, and wanting to experiment with the document track. I’m planning 4 posts in this series:

  • How a client would create a FHIR document (incidentally for the remainder of this series, I’m going to refer to a FHIR document just as  ‘document’, so when you see this, I’m NOT talking about CDA. Later posts will talk more about the relationship between the two).
  • How a server could process a document. There are a few possibilities…
  • How to find the document on the server later, and render it to the client.
  • A wrap up on the Composition resource and anything else left over.

I do intend to spend a lot more time on FHIR & CDA, but this should at least cover the basics.
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FHIR: meet #CDA

CDA (Clinical Document Architecture) is undeniably the most successful HL7 version 3 standard. It’s being used very widely around the world for representing clinical data, and is one of the core standards for many jurisdictions – like Meaningful Use in the US. Obviously, if FHIR is to succeed, then it needs to have some way of doing what CDA does now (and including all the good thinking that has gone into CDA).

Another reason to start thinking about CDA is that the next FHIR connectathon at the January Working Group Meeting next year is going to have FHIR documents as one of the themes, so it makes sense to start thinking about how this all works.
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