A Document Reference resource is used to index a document, clinical note, and other binary objects to make them available to a healthcare system. A document is some sequence of bytes that is identifiable, establishes its own context (e.g., what subject, author, etc. can be displayed to the user), and has defined update management. The Document Reference resource can be used with any document format that has a recognized mime type and that conforms to this definition.
FHIR defines both a document format and this document reference. FHIR documents are for documents that are authored and assembled in FHIR. This resource is mainly intended for general references to assembled documents.
The document that is a target of the reference can be a reference to an FHIR document served by another server, or the target can be stored in the special FHIR Binary Resource, or the target can be stored on some other server system. The document reference is also able to address documents that are retrieved by a service call such as an XDS.b RetrieveDocumentSet, or a DICOM exchange, or an HL7 v2 message query – through the way each of these services calls works must be specified in some external standard or other documentation.
A Document Reference describes some other document. This means that there are two sets of provenance information relevant here: the provenance of the document, and the provenance of the document reference. Sometimes, the provenance information is closely related, as when the document producer also produces the document reference, but in other workflows, the document reference is generated later by other actors. In the Document Reference resource, the meta content refers to the provenance of the reference itself, while the content described below concerns the document it references. Like all resources, there is an overlap between the information in the resource directly, and in the general Provenance resource.
Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is a draft standard describing data formats and elements (known as “resources”) and an application programming interface (API) for exchanging electronic health records. The standard was created by the Health Level Seven International (HL7) health-care standards organization.
Its goal is to facilitate interoperation between legacy healthcare systems, to make it easy to provide healthcare information to healthcare providers and individuals on a wide variety of devices from computers to tablets to cell phones, and to allow third-party application developers to provide medical applications which can be easily integrated into existing systems.
FHIR provides an alternative to document-centric approaches by directly exposing discrete data elements as services. For example, basic elements of healthcare like patients, admissions, diagnostic reports and medications can each be retrieved and manipulated via their own resource URLs (Uniform Resource Locators). FHIR was supported at an American Medical Informatics Association meeting by many EHR (Electronic Health Record) vendors which value its open and extensible nature.