FHIR launchpad

This page is intended to be a launchpad for developers to get started using and integrating with the terminology server’s APIs. For the most part this is largely focussed on the FHIR Terminology Service resources and API rather than Ontoserver specifically.

  1. What is FHIR?
  2. FHIR terminology services
  3. Example requests
  4. Example applications
  5. Day to day reference
  6. Getting help

What is FHIR?

FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is designed to enable information exchange to support the provision of healthcare in a wide variety of settings. The specification builds on and adapts modern, widely used RESTful practices to enable the provision of integrated healthcare across a wide range of teams and organizations.

The intended scope of FHIR is broad, covering human and veterinary, clinical care, public health, clinical trials, administration and financial aspects. The standard is intended for global use and in a wide variety of architectures and scenarios.

Following the RESTful architectural style, the FHIR specification centres on a number of resources it defines in the healthcare domain and the operations associated with those resources.

Before continuing, if you aren’t comfortable with the concept of what FHIR is there’s an introduction for developers in the FHIR specification, or watch this FHIR Introduction video from DevDays 2019.

FHIR Terminology Services

FHIR defines specific resources and operations for terminologies, as well as a number of detailed specifications on how to represent well known terminologies and code system in FHIR, this is known as the FHIR Terminology Service. The FHIR Terminology Service build upon the fundamentals of FHIR and its RESTful approach, so these are a good background to have when learning about the FHIR Terminology server.

Example requests

One of the best ways to learn about an API is by examining some example requests. The accompanying Postman environments in the examples below can be easily pointed towards another server and adapted to different use cases.

A Postman collection of usages of FHIR terminology services aimed at helping developers understand how to use the terminology API by example

Postman collections containing FHIR usage examples maintained by the NCTS

Example applications

There exist a number of example applications that use the FHIR Terminology Service APIs extensively. These can be used for ideas on how to use the APIs, with some exemplar implementations intended to be pulled apart for that purpose.

FHIR API Usage examples

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This site provides a series of web UI exemplars which use FHIR terminology services to provide their functionality, including links to Plnkr so you can experiment. These exemplars are simplistically implemented to demonstrate the technical workings of integration to the FHIR terminology services API for a number of use cases. As a result they are aimed at developers.

This example mimics an EMR user interface to demonstrate how FHIR terminology services can be used to provide a good user experience for clinicians.It includes a number of information icons that explain how the functionality is implemented, and watching the requests it generates on the browsers developer console is a good way to understand its technical operation.

Shrimp is a FHIR terminology browser that is implemented on top of Ontoserver using the FHIR Terminology Services APIs. Examining the requests Shrimp is sending on the browser’s developer console is also a good way to understand how it implements its functionality using these APIs.

Snapper is a FHIR terminology resource authoring tool, also implemented on top of Ontoserver using the FHIR Terminology Services APIs. Using the browser developer console to examine requests and responses Snapper is sending/receiving can be useful to understand how it achieves its functionality with the FHIR Terminology Services APIs.

Day to day reference

As a day to day reference, the FHIR Terminology Module and its sub pages provide an overview and all the details on FHIR’s terminology resources an operations.

Ontoserver’s online documentation covers technical details of Ontoserver in depth, and provides a section specifically on Ontoserver’s FHIR terminology API implementation including constraints and extensions.

Getting help

There are a number of ways to get help.

Firstly, the FHIR chat is an open and inclusive community chat that welcomes requests for help regardless of whether you are just getting started and have a simple problem, or have considerable experience and have a detailed and complex question. Often, searching the chat history can help you find an answer, but do not be afraid to post a question. The most relevant area is the terminology stream, but look for sub-streams relevant to your question or problem.

For more specific questions pertaining to Ontoserver and our other solutions, there is an Ontoserver Slack space where the terminology product developers and content experts are available to answer questions. If possible, posting questions in the public channels can help others who may have similar problems or may benefit from understanding what you are doing. To join, contact us or send an email to ontoserver-support@csiro.au.