HL7 Publishes Release 5 of FHIR Standard

April 13, 2023
Incremental updates enable growing capabilities for interoperability in clinical care, public health, and research, standards organization says

Standards organization HL7 has published Release 5 of its Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, which it says offers improvements in interoperability and data management.

Building on feedback from the healthcare community's implementation experience since Release 4 was published in December 2018, HL7 said that FHIR R5 is a ‘trial use’ standard that “retains prior mature, normative content while incorporating enhancements that are ready for implementation and feedback.”

"We are grateful for the incredible contributions and dedication from the global healthcare community in developing FHIR R5," said Grahame Grieve, HL7 FHIR product director, in a statement. "The feedback and collaboration have been invaluable in shaping this latest version of the standard, which will further advance healthcare interoperability and improve healthcare outcomes.”

FHIR R5 provides significant end-user benefits to the clinical community and ultimately to the patients for whom they care,” explained HL7 CEO Charles Jaffe, M.D., Ph.D., in a statement.

These benefits include the following:

•  Improved interoperability: HL7 FHIR R5 provides a robust and standardized framework for exchanging healthcare information between different systems and applications, making it easier for clinicians to access the patient data they need to make informed decisions.

•  Enhanced data management: With FHIR R5, clinicians can manage and access patient data more efficiently, reducing errors and improving the quality of care.

•  Streamlined workflow: FHIR R5 enables faster and more efficient information exchange, allowing clinicians to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time focused on patient care.

•  Support for innovative applications: FHIR R5 provides a flexible and extensible data model, enabling the development of innovative healthcare applications that can improve patient care and outcomes.

Daniel Vreeman, D.P.T., HL7 chief standards development officer, explained that Release 5 represents the collective progress and implementation experience of the FHIR community.  "With its many incremental updates, this release enables growing capabilities for interoperability in clinical care, public health, and research,” he added.

FHIR R5 contains thousands of incremental updates, corrections, and enhancements that improve the overall quality and capability of the standard according to HL7. It includes several notable enhancements, such as the following:

•  Capabilities for topic-based subscriptions are now part of the core specification, enabling proactive event notifications based on data changes in the source system.

•  Significant revisions to the Medication Definition resources to better support the needs of manufacturers and regulators and use in drug catalogs and pharmacopoeias.

•  More than a dozen new resources defining structures for different types of health-related information. FHIR now defines 157 different resource types.

•  New operations are defined for efficiently managing large resources such as Groups and Lists

•  Several changes to the specification's infrastructure further enable management of coded terminologies as well as extensions to be managed more appropriately alongside the core FHIR specification.

HL7 plans to publish the next milestone release of FHIR as a normative standard, based on the implementer experience and feedback on R5.