Healthcare Interoperability: Exploring the Potential of the FHIR ClinicalImpression Resource

The Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) ClinicalImpression resource is a key component of the FHIR standard, which aims to revolutionize the exchange of healthcare information in a standardized and efficient manner. FHIR is an open and modern framework developed by the healthcare industry to enable seamless data exchange and interoperability among different health information systems.


The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource represents the clinical assessment and interpretation of a patient’s healthcare data by a healthcare professional. It captures the clinician’s subjective judgment and expert analysis of the patient’s condition, taking into account various clinical data points such as observations, diagnostic results, and the patient’s medical history. This resource is particularly valuable in care coordination and decision-making processes, as it provides a consolidated view of the patient’s health status and guides healthcare providers in developing appropriate treatment plans.

In practical terms, the ClinicalImpression resource is designed to be flexible and adaptable to various clinical scenarios and specialties. It allows healthcare professionals to record their impressions in a structured format, including relevant details such as the assessment date, the context of the evaluation, and the supporting evidence or rationale for their conclusions. By adhering to a standardized data model, FHIR ensures that clinical impressions can be easily shared and understood across different healthcare systems, reducing ambiguity and promoting efficient communication among providers.

The resource also facilitates the integration of clinical impressions with other FHIR resources, enabling a comprehensive view of a patient’s health record. For instance, a ClinicalImpression can reference observations, medications, procedures, and other pertinent data, creating a more holistic representation of the patient’s healthcare journey. This interoperability is crucial in today’s healthcare landscape, where patients often receive care from multiple providers and institutions.

FHIR ClinicalImpression Resource
FHIR ClinicalImpression Resource

Moreover, the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource aligns with the broader goals of modern healthcare, such as patient-centered care, evidence-based decision-making, and improved outcomes. By capturing the thought process of clinicians and enabling the sharing of valuable insights, FHIR contributes to more informed and collaborative healthcare practices. It also empowers patients to become active participants in their care by allowing them to access and understand their clinical impressions, fostering a stronger patient-provider relationship.

Overall, the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource plays a pivotal role in advancing the interoperability and exchange of clinical information, promoting more efficient, accurate, and patient-centric care delivery. As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and embrace digital innovation, FHIR remains at the forefront, empowering healthcare professionals with the tools they need to make well-informed decisions and improve patient outcomes.

Structure of FHIR ClinicalImpression Resource

Here is the structure of the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource in JSON format along with an explanation of each component. Other format like XML and Turtle is also present, but for simplicity here we will take the example of JSON format. The complete structure details can be found here.

  "resourceType": "ClinicalImpression",
  "id": "example-clinical-impression",
  "status": "completed",
  "code": {
    "coding": [
        "system": "",
        "code": "243144002",
        "display": "Assessment of patient"
  "subject": {
    "reference": "Patient/example",
    "display": "John Doe"
  "encounter": {
    "reference": "Encounter/example",
    "display": "Emergency Department Visit"
  "effectiveDateTime": "2023-07-27T10:15:00Z",
  "assessor": {
    "reference": "Practitioner/example",
    "display": "Dr. Smith"
  "summary": "Patient presented with acute chest pain",
  "finding": [
      "itemCodeableConcept": {
        "coding": [
            "system": "",
            "code": "418290001",
            "display": "Chest pain"
        "text": "Chest pain"
      "basis": "Physical examination",
      "valueCodeableConcept": {
        "coding": [
            "system": "",
            "code": "162543000",
            "display": "Finding present"
  "investigation": [
      "code": {
        "coding": [
            "system": "",
            "code": "26436-6",
            "display": "Vital signs"
        "text": "Vital signs"
      "item": [
          "reference": "Observation/example-temperature",
          "display": "Temperature"
          "reference": "Observation/example-blood-pressure",
          "display": "Blood Pressure"
          "reference": "Observation/example-heart-rate",
          "display": "Heart Rate"
  "protocol": "Assessment and management of acute chest pain",
  "summaryCodeableConcept": {
    "coding": [
        "system": "",
        "code": "386343001",
        "display": "Clinical impression"
    "text": "Clinical impression"

Let’s break down the JSON structure and explain each element:

  • resourceType: Specifies the type of resource, which, in this case, is “ClinicalImpression.”
  • id: A unique identifier for the ClinicalImpression resource.
  • status: Indicates the status of the clinical impression, which is “completed” in this example.
  • code: Describes the type of clinical impression using a coding system (in this case, LOINC) with a specific code and display name.
  • subject: References the patient who is the subject of the clinical impression.
  • encounter: References the encounter where the clinical impression was made, indicating the context of the assessment.
  • effectiveDateTime: Specifies the date and time when the clinical impression was made.
  • assessor: References the healthcare professional (e.g., a practitioner) who made the assessment.
  • summary: A textual summary of the clinical impression.
  • finding: Describes the findings from the assessment, including the observed item (e.g., “Chest pain”) and its value (e.g., “Finding present”).
  • investigation: Represents any investigations performed during the assessment, in this case, vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
  • protocol: Provides information about the protocol or guidelines followed during the assessment.
  • summaryCodeableConcept: A codeable concept representing the overall clinical impression with a specific code and display name.

Commonly used fields in FHIR ClinicalImpression Resource

The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource is a flexible and comprehensive resource designed to capture clinical assessments and impressions in a standardized way. The most commonly used fields in the ClinicalImpression resource include:

  • status: This field indicates the status of the clinical impression, which can be “draft,” “active,” “completed,” “entered-in-error,” or “stopped.” It helps track the lifecycle of the impression.
  • code: Describes the type of clinical impression using coding, typically referencing a terminology system such as SNOMED CT or LOINC.
  • subject: References the patient or group for whom the clinical impression is being made.
  • effective[x]: This field represents the date/time the clinical impression was made. The [x] indicates that the effectiveDateTime or effectivePeriod can be used to specify the timing.
  • assessor: References the healthcare professional or user who made the clinical impression.
  • summary: A brief text summary of the clinical impression, providing an overview of the assessment.
  • finding: This field captures specific clinical findings or observations made during the assessment, including the item observed and its value.
  • investigation: Allows linking the clinical impression to specific investigations (e.g., diagnostic tests) performed as part of the assessment.
  • protocol: Can be used to document the protocol or guideline followed during the assessment process.
  • prognosisCodeableConcept: Represents the clinician’s assessment of the likely outcome of the patient’s condition.
  • supportingInfo: Provides references to additional information or data sources that support the clinical impression.
  • note: Allows for free-text annotations or comments related to the clinical impression.

These are the key fields that are often used in the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource. However, it’s important to note that the resource is flexible and can accommodate additional elements as needed to capture specific clinical scenarios or domain-specific requirements. The FHIR standard encourages the use of the most relevant and necessary fields to ensure effective interoperability and communication between different healthcare systems and stakeholders.

A use case where FHIR ClinicalImpression Resource can be utilized

Use Case: Clinical Assessment and Management of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)


Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening condition characterized by severe respiratory failure and widespread inflammation of the lungs. It can result from various underlying causes, such as pneumonia, sepsis, trauma, or aspiration of gastric contents. Prompt and accurate clinical assessment is crucial for the timely diagnosis and effective management of ARDS. Healthcare providers need a standardized approach to document their clinical impressions, assessments, and treatment plans to ensure continuity of care and facilitate collaboration among multidisciplinary teams.


The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource can be utilized to address the clinical assessment and management of patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Here’s how it can be implemented:

  1. Creation of ClinicalImpression Resource: When a patient presents with symptoms suggestive of ARDS, a healthcare provider, such as an emergency department physician or an intensivist, creates a new ClinicalImpression resource in the electronic health record (EHR) system.
  2. Assessment Details: The ClinicalImpression resource includes essential details such as the date and time of assessment, the patient’s demographic information, and references to relevant encounters and observations.
  3. Clinical Findings: The healthcare provider documents their clinical findings, including physical examination results, radiological assessments (e.g., chest X-ray or CT scan), and laboratory test results. Findings may indicate the presence of pulmonary infiltrates, hypoxemia, or other signs consistent with ARDS.
  4. Etiology and Context: The provider includes information about the possible etiology or underlying cause of ARDS, such as infection, trauma, or sepsis. The context of the assessment, such as the patient’s medical history and recent interventions, is also recorded.
  5. Vital Signs and Observations: The investigation section of the ClinicalImpression resource references relevant observations, including vital signs such as respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and blood pressure. These metrics help gauge the severity of respiratory distress and guide treatment decisions.
  6. Treatment Plan: The provider outlines the initial treatment plan, which may involve oxygen therapy, mechanical ventilation, hemodynamic support, and management of the underlying cause. This plan can be updated as the patient’s condition evolves.
  7. Collaboration and Interoperability: The ClinicalImpression resource supports interoperability, enabling other members of the healthcare team, such as respiratory therapists, nurses, and consultants, to access and contribute to the assessment. This fosters effective communication and coordination of care.
  8. Monitoring and Prognosis: As the patient’s condition progresses, the ClinicalImpression resource can be updated to reflect changes in clinical status, response to treatment, and prognosis. This ongoing documentation aids in long-term monitoring and evaluation of the patient’s recovery.

By leveraging the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource, healthcare providers can efficiently document their clinical assessments, ensure standardized information exchange, and improve decision-making in the diagnosis and management of patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The resource’s flexibility and interoperability contribute to enhanced care coordination and ultimately better patient outcomes.

Here are a few general or interview questions related to the ClinicalImpression resource, which aims to gauge your knowledge about the resource, its practical application, and your understanding of healthcare interoperability principles.

1. What is the purpose of the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource, and in which healthcare scenarios is it commonly used?

The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource is designed to capture and communicate a healthcare professional’s subjective clinical assessment and interpretation of a patient’s condition. It serves as a consolidated view of the clinician’s impressions, findings, and rationale, facilitating effective communication among healthcare providers and supporting care coordination. This resource is commonly used in scenarios where clinical assessments and impressions are crucial, such as during diagnostic evaluations, treatment planning, and monitoring of patients with complex or evolving medical conditions.

2. How does the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource promote interoperability in healthcare systems?

The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource promotes interoperability by adhering to standardized data models and terminology systems. It uses FHIR’s JSON or XML format, allowing easy exchange of clinical information between different healthcare systems. By using common coding systems for elements such as clinical findings and assessments, it ensures that data can be accurately interpreted and understood across various health IT platforms, reducing data fragmentation and improving communication among different stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem.

3. What are the key elements typically included in a FHIR ClinicalImpression resource?

The key elements of an FHIR ClinicalImpression resource include:

  • Status: Indicating the lifecycle status of the impression (e.g., completed, active, draft).
  • Code: Describing the type of clinical impression using coding from standard terminology systems.
  • Subject: Referencing the patient or group for whom the impression is made.
  • Assessor: Identifying the healthcare professional or user who conducted the assessment.
  • EffectiveDateTime or EffectivePeriod: Indicating the date and time or a period when the impression was made.
  • Summary: A brief textual summary of the clinical impression.
  • Finding: Capturing specific clinical findings or observations made during the assessment.
  • Investigation: Linking the impression to specific investigations or diagnostic tests performed.
  • Protocol: Documenting the protocol or guideline followed during the assessment process.

4. How does the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource support collaborative care and multidisciplinary teams?

The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource supports collaborative care by providing a standardized platform for healthcare professionals from different specialties to share their clinical impressions and assessments. As the resource can reference other FHIR resources such as observations, encounters, and patients, it enables a comprehensive view of the patient’s health data. This shared information fosters effective communication among multidisciplinary teams, allowing them to collectively develop and adjust treatment plans, leading to better-coordinated care and improved patient outcomes.

5. How can the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource be utilized in the context of clinical decision support?

The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource can be used as a basis for clinical decision support systems. Capturing the clinician’s thought process, reasoning, and assessment of the patient’s condition, provides valuable insights that can be leveraged by decision-support algorithms. For example, clinical decision support systems can use this information to alert healthcare providers to potential diagnoses, recommend evidence-based treatment options, or identify the need for further investigations based on the clinical findings recorded in the ClinicalImpression resource.

6. In which healthcare settings or use cases can the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource help improve patient outcomes and quality of care?

The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource can be beneficial in a variety of healthcare settings and use cases, such as:

  • Emergency Departments: Facilitating quick and accurate assessments of critically ill patients.
  • Intensive Care Units: Supporting complex patient management and treatment planning.
  • Chronic Disease Management: Assisting in the ongoing assessment and monitoring of patients with chronic conditions.
  • Clinical Research: Providing a standardized way to capture and analyze clinical impressions for research purposes.
  • Telemedicine: Enabling remote healthcare providers to share and access clinical impressions, improving teleconsultation and remote care delivery.

7. How does the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource handle situations where multiple assessments are made for a single patient over time?

The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource can accommodate multiple assessments for a single patient over time. Providers can create new instances of the ClinicalImpression resource for each assessment, capturing unique data for each encounter. These individual assessments can be linked to the same patient, encounter, or investigation, ensuring a longitudinal view of the patient’s clinical journey. By having separate instances, healthcare professionals can track changes in the patient’s condition, treatment plans, and prognoses over time, aiding in continuous care and clinical decision-making.

8. How can the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource be integrated with other FHIR resources to provide a comprehensive view of the patient’s health record?

The FHIR ClinicalImpression resource can be integrated with other FHIR resources, such as:

  • Observation: Referencing specific clinical findings or diagnostic results made during the assessment.
  • Patient: Linking the clinical impression to the patient’s demographic and health information.
  • Encounter: Connecting the clinical impression to the specific healthcare encounter where the assessment was conducted.
  • Condition: Referring to existing conditions or diagnoses relevant to the assessment.
  • Practitioner: Identifying the healthcare professional who conducted the assessment.

By linking these resources, the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource contributes to a more comprehensive and connected view of the patient’s health record, enabling better-informed care decisions and promoting interoperability across the healthcare ecosystem.


In conclusion, the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource is a vital component of the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, revolutionizing the way healthcare professionals capture, communicate, and share their clinical assessments and impressions. By providing a standardized and structured format for recording subjective clinical judgments, this resource enhances communication and collaboration among healthcare providers, supporting multidisciplinary teams in delivering optimal patient care. With its flexibility, the ClinicalImpression resource can be utilized in a wide range of healthcare scenarios, including emergency care, chronic disease management, and clinical research.

Furthermore, the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource plays a pivotal role in promoting interoperability across diverse health information systems. Its adherence to standardized data models and coding systems enables seamless data exchange, ensuring that critical clinical information can be accurately interpreted and understood by different stakeholders. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, the FHIR ClinicalImpression resource remains at the forefront, empowering healthcare professionals with the tools they need to make informed decisions, enhance patient outcomes, and ultimately contribute to the advancement of patient-centered care.

I hope you find this post helpful. Cheers!!!

[Further Readings: FHIR CareTeam Resource |  FHIR Goal Resource |  FHIR CarePlan Resource |  FHIR AdverseEvent Resource |  FHIR FamilyMemberHistory Resource |  FHIR Procedure Resource |  FHIR Condition Resource | FHIR InventoryItem Resource |  FHIR Substance Resource |  FHIR DeviceMetric Resource |  FHIR DeviceDefinition Resource |  FHIR Device Resource |  FHIR NutritionProduct Resource |  FHIR BiologicallyDerivedProduct Resource |  FHIR ObservationDefinition Resource |  FHIR Flag Resource |  FHIR AppointmentResponse Resource | FHIR Appointment Resource |   FHIR Encounter Resource |  FHIR EpisodeOfCare Resource |  FHIR SpecimenDefinition Resource |  FHIR Slot Resource |  FHIR Schedule Resource |  FHIR Endpoint Resource | FHIR HealthcareService Resource | Dependency Injection in WPF ]

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