7 Steps to FHIR for Developers

I’m often asked the most effective way for a developer to learn FHIR. If it’s your first FHIR project, where do you start?

Not with the official documentation. As comprehensive as it is, the FHIR documentation doesn’t easily distinguish between a doctor and a developer.

I recommend following these 7 steps, in order:

1. Watch James Agnew’s “Intro to FHIR” video
James is a techie, and his is the best walk-through of FHIR out there for a newbie with a technical mindset.

2. Install a local instance of FHIR
We’re developers — we need a local environment to play in and to work in. Here’s how to set up a Docker instance of FHIR in minutes.

3. Use Postman to add a few FHIR resources
Here’s a small Postman collection I created to get you started. Using the local FHIR server you’ve just installed, add, update and view some resources.

4. Download Vanya Client and connect it to your Localhost FHIR instance
Similar to a database client but for FHIR APIs. A tool for FHIR developers I’ve been working on for a while now. Very much a work-in-progress but useful to see changes to resources as they happen.

5. Add a large and complex bundle of resources to your local FHIR server
Here’s a link to 1,000 sample Patients with complex medical histories. Run a few bundles into your server, then take a look at the data in Vanya Client (Observations, Procedures, Encounters, CarePlans).

6. Learn about the FHIR search basics
This post outlines the different types of searches and what resources they can return.

Here’s an example of a more complex FHIR query that you can run against your sample data.

7. Install a FHIR SDK
Pick the SDK for your language, plug it into your test app and start writing code.

By now you should be up and running. You should have a good grasp of what FHIR is and how to work with it.

Time to pick and choose what you want to go deeper on, and dig into the official documentation.

The “HL7 FHIR Proficiency Study Guide” is a good place to start.
Download Study Guide



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