FHIR Search: Phonetic name searching

There are four search parameters in FHIR for searching based on a HumanName. ‘given’ and ‘family’ are self explanatory.

‘name’ is the wildcard that allows you to search for a string across all of the HumanName fields.

The fourth search parameter — the one you may be unfamiliar with — is ‘phonetic’. A phonetic search is traditionally based on pronunciation and doesn’t require an exact spelling match.

If a FHIR server has implemented the ‘phonetic’ search parameter, I would expect a search for the name Smit to also return entries for all the Smiths in the system.

We can test this using the Hapi test server here:


The first page of results contain a mixture patients named Smit and Smith.



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