Healthcare Interoperability: Exploring the Potential of the FHIR DiagnosticReport Resource

The FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) DiagnosticReport resource is a crucial element within the FHIR standard, designed to facilitate the exchange and sharing of diagnostic information in the healthcare domain. FHIR itself is a modern interoperability framework developed by the healthcare industry to address the challenges of data exchange and standardization in the field.


The FHIR DiagnosticReport resource serves as a structured representation of diagnostic results generated by a healthcare service, such as a laboratory test, imaging study, or any other diagnostic procedure. It acts as a comprehensive container that encapsulates essential information, making it easier for healthcare providers to communicate and interpret diagnostic findings accurately.

The primary goal of the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource is to enhance the exchange of diagnostic data across different healthcare systems and institutions, ensuring seamless integration and interoperability. This standardization not only streamlines the sharing of information but also promotes a more efficient and coordinated approach to patient care, ultimately leading to better clinical decision-making and improved patient outcomes.

By employing FHIR’s structured data format, the DiagnosticReport resource includes essential details such as the patient’s demographic information, the diagnostic test performed, the date and time of the test, the interpreting clinician or entity, the observed results, and any relevant conclusion or interpretation of the findings. This structured approach allows software systems and applications to easily parse and interpret the data, reducing the risk of misinterpretation and promoting accurate information exchange.

FHIR DiagnosticReport Resource
FHIR DiagnosticReport Resource

Furthermore, FHIR also supports various extensions and profiles that enable the customization of the DiagnosticReport resource to cater to specific use cases and domain-specific requirements. This flexibility ensures that the resource remains adaptable to evolving healthcare practices and technological advancements, making it a future-proof solution for diagnostic data exchange.

In summary, the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource plays a pivotal role in modernizing healthcare data exchange by providing a standardized, structured, and interoperable format for representing diagnostic results. Its ability to facilitate seamless communication between healthcare systems and applications contributes to improved care coordination, enhanced clinical decision-making, and ultimately better patient care and outcomes in the rapidly evolving landscape of modern healthcare.

Structure of FHIR DiagnosticReport Resource

Here is the structure of the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource in JSON format along with an explanation of each element. 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": "DiagnosticReport",
  "id": "example-report",
  "status": "final",
  "category": {
    "coding": [
        "system": "",
        "code": "LAB",
        "display": "Laboratory"
    "text": "Laboratory"
  "code": {
    "coding": [
        "system": "",
        "code": "26453-1",
        "display": "Complete Blood Count"
    "text": "CBC"
  "subject": {
    "reference": "Patient/example",
    "display": "John Doe"
  "effectiveDateTime": "2023-07-31T10:15:00Z",
  "issued": "2023-07-31T11:30:00Z",
  "performer": {
    "reference": "Organization/lab",
    "display": "Example Laboratory"
  "conclusion": "The patient's CBC results are within normal ranges.",
  "result": [
      "reference": "Observation/hemoglobin",
      "display": "Hemoglobin",
      "valueQuantity": {
        "value": 14.2,
        "unit": "g/dL",
        "system": "",
        "code": "g/dL"
      "reference": "Observation/leukocytes",
      "display": "Leukocytes",
      "valueQuantity": {
        "value": 7500,
        "unit": "cells/mm3",
        "system": "",
        "code": "/mm3"
      "reference": "Observation/platelet-count",
      "display": "Platelet Count",
      "valueQuantity": {
        "value": 200000,
        "unit": "cells/mm3",
        "system": "",
        "code": "/mm3"
  "presentedForm": [
      "contentType": "application/pdf",
      "language": "en",
      "data": "Base64-encoded-PDF-data"

Explanation of the JSON structure:

  • resourceType: Specifies the type of FHIR resource, which is “DiagnosticReport” in this case.
  • id: A unique identifier for the DiagnosticReport resource.
  • status: Indicates the status of the diagnostic report, and in this example, it is “final” to indicate that the report is complete and no further updates are expected.
  • category: Describes the category of the diagnostic report, with the coding system “” and the code “LAB” for “Laboratory.”
  • code: Provides information about the type of diagnostic test performed, using the LOINC code “26453-1” for “Complete Blood Count” (CBC).
  • subject: References the patient for whom the diagnostic report was generated.
  • effectiveDateTime: Specifies the date and time when the diagnostic test was performed.
  • issued: The date and time when the report was generated and issued.
  • performer: Indicates the organization or entity that performed the diagnostic test, in this case, “Example Laboratory.”
  • conclusion: A summary or conclusion of the diagnostic report, indicating that the patient’s CBC results are within normal ranges.
  • result: An array of references to the individual observations that constitute the diagnostic report. Each observation is represented by its reference (e.g., “Observation/hemoglobin”), display name, and associated value (e.g., hemoglobin value of 14.2 g/dL).
  • presentedForm: Specifies the representation of the diagnostic report, which can be a PDF or other data format. In this example, it is represented as a PDF document in Base64-encoded form.

Please note that the values used in this example are for illustration purposes and may not reflect actual clinical data. In practice, real diagnostic report data would be populated based on the specific patient’s test results obtained from the laboratory or diagnostic equipment.

Commonly used fields in FHIR DiagnosticReport Resource

The FHIR DiagnosticReport resource is a versatile and comprehensive standard designed to represent diagnostic results in the healthcare domain. While the use of fields within the resource can vary based on specific use cases and implementations, there are several commonly used fields that are essential for conveying diagnostic information. Some of the most frequently used fields in the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource include:

  • status: Indicates the status of the diagnostic report, such as “final” to indicate that the report is complete, or “amended” if it has been modified after issuance.
  • category: Describes the category of the diagnostic report, often using a code that specifies the type of diagnostic service, such as “LAB” for Laboratory tests.
  • code: Specifies the type of diagnostic test performed, usually represented by a code from a recognized coding system like LOINC (Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes).
  • subject: References the patient or subject for whom the diagnostic report was generated.
  • effective[x]: Indicates the time or period when the diagnostic test was performed. It can be represented as a specific date and time (effectiveDateTime) or as a period using start and end dates (effectivePeriod).
  • issued: Represents the date and time when the diagnostic report was generated or issued.
  • performer: Identifies the organization or individual that performed the diagnostic test or interpreted the results.
  • conclusion: Contains a summary or conclusion of the diagnostic report, providing an interpretation of the findings.
  • result: An array of references to individual observation resources representing the specific measured or observed values from the diagnostic test.
  • imagingStudy: References one or more imaging studies associated with the diagnostic report, when applicable.
  • presentedForm: Specifies the representation of the diagnostic report, often in the form of an attachment, such as a PDF, HTML, or other formats.
  • encounter: References the encounter or visit during which the diagnostic test was performed.

These fields provide essential information to describe the context, content, and results of a diagnostic report. It is important to note that while these fields are commonly used, the FHIR standard allows for extensions and additional custom fields to be included as needed to accommodate specific use cases and local requirements within different healthcare systems. As a result, the actual structure and use of the DiagnosticReport resource may vary based on the needs and capabilities of the systems implementing it.

A use case where FHIR DiagnosticReport Resource can be utilized

Use Case: Remote Monitoring of Chronic Disease

Description: In this use case, we consider a scenario where a healthcare provider needs to remotely monitor patients with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or hypertension. Regular diagnostic tests and measurements are essential to track the patient’s health status and make timely interventions, but frequent visits to healthcare facilities may not always be feasible or necessary. Therefore, leveraging the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource and other FHIR components becomes crucial to enable remote monitoring and efficient care management.


  1. Data Collection and Remote Monitoring: The healthcare provider implements a remote monitoring system that includes connected medical devices, such as glucometers, blood pressure monitors, and digital scales, capable of capturing relevant health metrics. The devices are equipped with FHIR-enabled interfaces to send the collected data to the provider’s health information system.
  2. FHIR DiagnosticReport Resource Integration: The health information system uses the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource to store and manage the diagnostic results generated from the remote monitoring devices. Each device measurement, such as blood glucose levels, blood pressure readings, and weight, is recorded as a separate observation within the DiagnosticReport resource.
  3. Real-time Updates and Alerts: As the remote monitoring devices transmit data, the health information system processes the incoming information and generates DiagnosticReport resources in real time. The provider’s care team can review the reports promptly and receive alerts for any concerning trends or critical values that require immediate attention.
  4. Patient Access and Engagement: Patients can access their diagnostic reports through a patient portal or mobile app, which leverages the FHIR resources for data exchange. The reports are presented in a user-friendly format, allowing patients to monitor their health progress and stay engaged in their care.
  5. Automated Decision Support: The health information system incorporates clinical decision support algorithms that analyze the diagnostic data over time. If the system detects potential health issues or deviations from the patient’s baseline, it can trigger automated alerts to the care team, enabling timely interventions or adjustments to the patient’s care plan.
  6. Interoperability and Data Sharing: The FHIR standard ensures interoperability between different healthcare systems. If the patient receives care from multiple providers or transitions between different healthcare settings, the DiagnosticReport resources can be easily exchanged, allowing all care teams to have access to the most recent diagnostic data for informed decision-making.
  7. Population Health Management: The aggregated data from the DiagnosticReport resources of multiple patients can be used for population health management and analytics. The healthcare provider can identify trends, patterns, and potential risk factors across their patient population, leading to more effective preventive measures and targeted interventions.

By utilizing the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource and FHIR’s interoperable framework, this remote monitoring use case empowers healthcare providers to deliver personalized and proactive care to patients with chronic diseases, leading to better health outcomes and improved patient satisfaction.

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

1. What is the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource, and what is its primary purpose in the FHIR standard?

The FHIR DiagnosticReport resource is a standard data representation designed to hold and share diagnostic results in the healthcare domain. It serves as a structured container for diagnostic information, such as laboratory test results or imaging study findings. The primary purpose of the DiagnosticReport resource in the FHIR standard is to facilitate the seamless exchange and interoperability of diagnostic data between different healthcare systems and institutions, enabling efficient communication and improved clinical decision-making.

2. How does FHIR ensure interoperability and data exchange between different healthcare systems when it comes to sharing DiagnosticReport resources?

FHIR ensures interoperability and data exchange between different healthcare systems for sharing DiagnosticReport resources through several mechanisms:

  1. Standardized Data Format: FHIR utilizes a standardized JSON or XML data format for representing DiagnosticReport resources, ensuring that all systems can understand and interpret the data consistently.
  2. Standardized Code Systems: FHIR relies on standardized code systems (e.g., LOINC) to represent medical concepts and observations in a universally recognized manner. This ensures that diagnostic test types and observations are consistently understood across different systems.
  3. RESTful APIs: FHIR provides RESTful APIs for accessing and exchanging DiagnosticReport resources securely over HTTP, enabling seamless communication between systems, regardless of their underlying technology.
  4. Profiles and Extensions: FHIR allows for the use of profiles and extensions to tailor DiagnosticReport resources to specific use cases or domain-specific requirements. This flexibility ensures that systems can extend the resource without breaking interoperability.
  5. Consistent Resource Definitions: FHIR defines clear and standardized resource definitions, including DiagnosticReport, which facilitates data exchange by ensuring that all systems use the same data elements and structure for representing diagnostic reports.
  6. Data Exchange Standards: FHIR follows modern healthcare data exchange standards, such as HL7 FHIR messaging and FHIR bulk data export, to support scalable and efficient data exchange between systems.

3. How would you differentiate between the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource and FHIR Observation resources and when would you choose one over the other?

The DiagnosticReport and Observation resources in FHIR both deal with clinical data, but they serve different purposes:

  • DiagnosticReport Resource: The DiagnosticReport resource is used to represent a formal diagnostic report, which consolidates and interprets the results of one or more observations or other diagnostic data. It provides a comprehensive summary and interpretation of diagnostic findings, such as the conclusion of a laboratory test or imaging study.
  • Observation Resource: The Observation resource represents individual clinical observations or measurements, such as a single blood pressure reading, a laboratory test result, or a patient’s weight. Observations are atomic data elements and do not include any interpretation or summary.

When to choose one over the other depends on the level of data abstraction needed:

  • If you need to represent a comprehensive diagnostic report that consolidates and interprets multiple observations, use the DiagnosticReport resource.
  • If you want to represent individual observations or measurements without any interpretation or aggregation, use the Observation resource.

For example, when storing a single blood glucose reading, you would use the Observation resource. However, if you want to represent a complete glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) test report, including multiple HbA1c observations along with the interpretation and summary, you would use the DiagnosticReport resource.

4. Describe a practical use case where the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource is beneficial, and how it can improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes.

A practical use case for the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource is in the context of a telemedicine platform. When a patient undergoes a telehealth consultation with a remote healthcare provider, the provider can order diagnostic tests to gather relevant health data. The results of these tests are captured as DiagnosticReport resources.

By using FHIR, the provider can securely share the diagnostic reports with the patient’s electronic health record (EHR) system, ensuring seamless integration and easy access to the test findings. This real-time exchange of diagnostic data enables timely decision-making, improves care coordination, and enhances patient outcomes by facilitating informed treatment plans and interventions.

5. What are the possible values for the “status” field in the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource, and what do they signify?

The “status” field in the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource can have several possible values, indicating the status of the diagnostic report. Common values include:

  • “registered”: The diagnostic report exists, but it is still being prepared or edited.
  • “partial”: The diagnostic report contains some preliminary information, but it is not yet complete.
  • “final”: The diagnostic report is complete and represents the final interpretation of the diagnostic findings.
  • “amended”: The diagnostic report has been modified after issuance to reflect updated information or corrections.
  • “cancelled”: The diagnostic report has been canceled and is no longer considered valid.
  • “entered-in-error”: The diagnostic report contains erroneous information and should not be relied upon.

6. How would you represent the reference to a patient in the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource, and what are the considerations when dealing with patient data privacy and security?

To represent the reference to a patient in the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource, you would use the subject field. The subject field typically contains a reference to the patient resource in the form of “Patient/[patient-id]“. This reference links the DiagnosticReport resource to the specific patient for whom the diagnostic test was performed.

When dealing with patient data privacy and security, it is essential to follow the principles of data protection and compliance with relevant regulations, such as HIPAA or GDPR. Access to patient data should be restricted to authorized individuals or systems. Any exchange of DiagnosticReport resources must occur over secure channels, such as encrypted communication using HTTPS. Additionally, patient consent must be obtained for sharing their diagnostic data across different healthcare systems, and data anonymization or pseudonymization techniques may be applied to further protect patient privacy.

7. What are the ways to include diagnostic observations within the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource, and how can you associate them with specific patients?

There are two primary ways to include diagnostic observations within the DiagnosticReport resource:

  1. By using the result field: The result field is an array of references to individual Observation resources that represent the diagnostic observations. Each observation includes the specific measured or observed value and relevant details, such as the code representing the observation type (e.g., LOINC code for a specific laboratory test). To associate these observations with specific patients, each Observation resource references the patient using the subject field.
  2. By including embedded observations: Instead of referencing individual Observation resources using the result field, some systems may choose to directly embed the diagnostic observations within the DiagnosticReport resource. In this case, each observation becomes an element of the DiagnosticReport resource, with its value and other relevant details. The patient association is still maintained through the subject field at the DiagnosticReport level.

8. How do extensions work in the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource? Can you provide an example of when and why they might be used?

Extensions in FHIR allow for additional custom data elements or attributes to be added to a resource when the standard fields are insufficient to convey certain information. Extensions are useful for supporting specific use cases or domain-specific requirements without breaking interoperability.

In the context of the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource, an extension might be used to include additional details about the diagnostic equipment or testing methodology used to generate the report. For example, an extension could provide information about the make and model of the laboratory analyzer used to perform a blood test, ensuring that all relevant information related to the testing process is captured in the report. This level of granularity helps in research and quality improvement efforts, as well as ensuring the highest level of traceability and accuracy in diagnostic reporting.

9. Suppose you have a diagnostic report containing multiple observations (e.g., blood pressure, glucose level, cholesterol). How would you structure the resource to handle these multiple observations effectively?

To handle multiple observations effectively within a diagnostic report, you would use the result field, which is an array of references to individual Observation resources. Each Observation resource represents a specific measurement, such as blood pressure, glucose level, or cholesterol. By referencing these Observation resources in the result field of the DiagnosticReport, you can efficiently organize and link the multiple observations to the corresponding diagnostic report.

10. In a scenario where a patient undergoes multiple diagnostic tests on different dates, how would you represent this in the DiagnosticReport resource to maintain a clear and organized record?

When a patient undergoes multiple diagnostic tests on different dates, you can represent this in the DiagnosticReport resource by creating separate instances of the resource for each test. Each DiagnosticReport resource would contain the details of the specific diagnostic test, including the test date and relevant observations. Additionally, you can set the effectiveDateTime field in each DiagnosticReport to indicate the date and time when the respective test was performed. This approach maintains a clear and organized record, ensuring that each test and its corresponding results are represented as distinct and individual diagnostic reports.

11. What considerations should be taken into account when designing a system that generates DiagnosticReport resources for remote monitoring of patients with chronic diseases?

When designing a system for remote monitoring of patients with chronic diseases using DiagnosticReport resources, several considerations should be addressed:

  1. Data Accuracy and Reliability: Ensure that the remote monitoring devices used to capture diagnostic data provide accurate and reliable measurements to maintain data integrity.
  2. Real-time Data Transmission: Design a secure and efficient mechanism for real-time data transmission from remote devices to the health information system to support timely decision-making.
  3. Data Privacy and Security: Implement robust security measures to protect patient data during transmission and storage, complying with privacy regulations to maintain patient confidentiality.
  4. Scalability: Consider the system’s ability to handle a large volume of diagnostic data generated from numerous remote monitoring devices, especially for a growing population of patients.
  5. Interoperability: Ensure that the generated DiagnosticReport resources adhere to FHIR standards for seamless integration with other healthcare systems and EHRs.
  6. Alerting and Notification: Implement automated alerting and notification mechanisms for healthcare providers to respond promptly to critical diagnostic results or deviations from normal ranges.
  7. Patient Engagement: Design patient-facing interfaces that empower patients to access and understand their diagnostic reports, fostering engagement and self-management of their health.

12. How can you ensure that FHIR DiagnosticReport resources remain accurate and up-to-date, especially in cases where results may be amended or modified?

To ensure that FHIR DiagnosticReport resources remain accurate and up-to-date, follow these best practices:

  1. Versioning and History: Implement versioning for DiagnosticReport resources, allowing the system to maintain a history of modifications. This enables tracking changes and retaining the original report alongside amended versions.
  2. Audit Trail: Maintain an audit trail of changes made to DiagnosticReport resources, recording the timestamp, reason, and the user responsible for any updates.
  3. Notification of Amendments: Notify relevant healthcare providers or care teams when a DiagnosticReport is amended, ensuring that they are aware of the changes.
  4. Data Validation and Review: Implement data validation processes to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the diagnostic data before generating DiagnosticReport resources.
  5. Provider Review and Approval: Implement workflows for healthcare providers to review and approve DiagnosticReport resources before finalizing and sharing them with patients or other care providers.


In conclusion, the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource serves as a pivotal component within the FHIR standard, revolutionizing the representation and exchange of diagnostic data in the healthcare industry. By providing a standardized and structured format for conveying diagnostic results, the DiagnosticReport resource promotes seamless interoperability between various healthcare systems and institutions. This interoperability not only enhances communication and collaboration among healthcare providers but also empowers patients to take an active role in managing their health through secure access to their diagnostic reports.

The adoption of the FHIR DiagnosticReport resource brings numerous benefits to modern healthcare practices. It streamlines the process of sharing diagnostic findings, enabling timely clinical decision-making and fostering more personalized patient care. With the ability to represent a wide range of diagnostic tests and observations, this resource lays the foundation for advanced analytics and population health management, contributing to medical research and improved public health outcomes. As the healthcare industry continues to embrace FHIR and its standardized data exchange approach, the DiagnosticReport resource plays a critical role in modernizing health information management and ultimately advancing the quality and efficiency of patient care.

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

[Further Readings: FHIR Observation Resource |  FHIR NutritionOrder Resource |  FHIR NutritionIntake Resource |   FHIR RiskAssessment Resource |  FHIR VisionPrescription Resource |  FHIR ServiceRequest Resource | FHIR DetectedIssue Resource |  FHIR ClinicalImpression Resource |  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 |  | Dependency Injection in WPF ]

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