FHIR Certification

The Why’s, The Do’s, and the Don’ts

FHIR, or Fast healthcare Interoperability Resources, is a standard for the electronic exchange of Healthcare data. It improves the exchange of healthcare data from healthcare organization to healthcare organization.

FHIR has had multiple releases, with the latest being R5. R5 is composed of 157 different resources. FHIR resources break healthcare data down into categories, for example, Individuals (patients and practitioners), Management (encounters and episodes of care), Diagnostics (labs and imaging) and Financial (billing and payment). FHIR resources represent different aspects of healthcare data and define the data elements, constraints and relationships between resources.

Resources are assigned maturity levels, with Normative being the highest level and Draft being the lowest maturity level. Normative resources are approved and considered stable. They have gone through review and production implementation in a variety of environments. Draft resources, on the other hand, are not considered to be complete or reviewed enough to be ready for implementation and are considered to be in a development stage.

FHIR uses RESTful APIs, JSON and XML technologies to provide a data model for healthcare providers that is extensible. Data can be stored and queried across multiple systems and applications. As FHIR is adopted worldwide, this combination of resources and RESTful APIs will improve healthcare worldwide. For example, a patient from France arrives in an Emergency Room in the United States. The Emergency Room needs to know their health history and current Medications. A simple API call would provide that Emergency Room with all of the patients information, which could save their life.

Lack of FHIR knowledge has been the largest barrier to FHIR adoption. Trying to figure out how to gain an understanding of FHIR was the biggest hurdle I faced. I was motivated to learn FHIR, but did not know where to start. I reviewed the FHIR specification and felt even more overwhelmed. I found that the best way to gain an understanding of FHIR is through the certification process. I set a goal to get certified, with a target date in mind. This forced me to understand and dive into the FHIR standard, with certification as the prize. I signed up for The Comprehensive HL7 FHIR Proficiency Exam Preparation Course and dove in.

The Whys:

  • FHIR Proficiency Certification will set you apart from your peers in the Healthcare IT world. You will receive a badge that you can add to your Linkedin profile. This will make you one of less than 200 people in the United States who are HL7 FHIR (R4) Proficiency Certified. Check out the FHIR Certification directory
  • By studying for the FHIR Proficiency Exam, you will gain a full understanding of FHIR - its history, resources, RESTful APIs, challenges, implementations guides, use cases, and the list goes on and on.
  • As FHIR becomes more and more prevalent in the HealthCare IT world, having a good understanding of FHIR will allow you to lead others and speak intelligently about FHIR.
  • Understanding FHIR will allow you to participate in the Dev Days and Connectathons that occur regularly throughout the year (in some cool locations).  

The Dos:

The Don'ts:

  • Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of information in the HL7 FHIR Specification. Focus on one area of the specification at a time and take good notes.
  • Don’t get frustrated if it takes a while for everything to click. Look at the big picture first, and slowly dive into the resources and RESTful APi’s.
  • Don’t delay as FHIR is becoming more widely adopted worldwide.
  • Don’t go at it alone. Join a group with some colleagues and take a course together and form a study group. Share notes, questions and experiences.
  • Don’t stress out. If you do not pass the exam on the first attempt, you can take it again.


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Marie Smith
Test Automation Engineer