Healthcare Interoperability: Exploring the Potential of the FHIR Procedure Resource

The FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) Procedure Resource is a fundamental component of the FHIR standard, designed to facilitate the exchange of essential healthcare information in a standardized and interoperable manner. FHIR is an advanced healthcare interoperability standard developed by the Health Level Seven International (HL7) organization, aiming to improve the sharing and management of healthcare data across various systems and platforms.


At its core, the FHIR Procedure Resource represents a specific medical or clinical activity that has been performed or is planned to be performed on a patient. This encompasses a wide range of procedures, including diagnostic tests, surgical interventions, therapeutic treatments, and other medical actions. By providing a standardized format for describing procedures, FHIR enables seamless communication and data exchange between healthcare providers, health systems, and other stakeholders involved in a patient’s care.

The FHIR Procedure Resource is structured to include a set of essential elements, each capturing crucial details about a procedure. These elements may encompass the date and time of the procedure, the type of procedure performed, the location where it took place, the individuals or entities involved in its execution, and any associated observations or outcomes. Additionally, the resource allows for the inclusion of pertinent clinical notes, images, or other relevant data related to the procedure.

One of the primary strengths of FHIR lies in its flexibility and adaptability to various healthcare settings and technologies. It employs modern web-based standards, such as JSON and XML, making it easily integrate with existing systems and applications. This interoperability ensures that healthcare providers can seamlessly share procedure-related information with each other, supporting coordinated care and reducing the risk of medical errors.

FHIR Procedure Resource
FHIR Procedure Resource

Furthermore, FHIR embraces a patient-centric approach, emphasizing the importance of empowering individuals to access and manage their health data. Patients can securely access their procedure-related information through FHIR-enabled applications and have a more active role in their healthcare decisions.

Moreover, the FHIR Procedure Resource plays a vital role in promoting healthcare interoperability by providing a standardized way to describe and share information about medical procedures. Its adoption has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry by enhancing data exchange, improving care coordination, and ultimately leading to better patient outcomes. As the healthcare ecosystem continues to evolve, FHIR’s Procedure Resource stands as a cornerstone in the pursuit of more efficient, patient-centered, and technologically advanced healthcare services.

Structure of FHIR Procedure Resource

Here is the structure of the FHIR Procedure 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": "Procedure",
  "id": "example-procedure",
  "status": "completed",
  "code": {
    "coding": [
        "system": "",
        "code": "123456",
        "display": "Appendectomy"
    "text": "Appendectomy"
  "subject": {
    "reference": "Patient/Patient-1",
    "display": "John Doe"
  "performedDateTime": "2023-07-24T10:30:00Z",
  "performer": [
      "actor": {
        "reference": "Practitioner/Doctor-1",
        "display": "Dr. Smith"
      "role": {
        "coding": [
            "system": "",
            "code": "CP",
            "display": "Primary Surgeon"
        "text": "Primary Surgeon"
  "device": [
      "reference": "Device/Device-1",
      "display": "Laparoscope"
  "complication": [
      "coding": [
          "system": "",
          "code": "789012",
          "display": "Surgical site infection"
      "text": "Surgical site infection"
  "outcome": {
    "coding": [
        "system": "",
        "code": "567890",
        "display": "Successful"
    "text": "Successful"
  "report": [
      "reference": "DiagnosticReport/Report-1",
      "display": "Operative Report"
  "note": [
      "text": "The patient had a history of appendicitis."

Explanation of the elements used in the JSON structure:

  • resourceType: Indicates that this is a FHIR Procedure Resource.
  • id: An identifier for this specific procedure entry.
  • status: The status of the procedure (e.g., completed, in-progress, aborted).
  • code: Describes the procedure performed, using SNOMED-CT coding system.
  • subject: Reference to the patient on whom the procedure was performed.
  • performedDateTime: The date and time when the procedure took place.
  • performer: The individual or entity who performed the procedure, along with their role.
  • device: Any devices or instruments used during the procedure, in this example, a laparoscope.
  • complication: Any complications that occurred during or after the procedure.
  • outcome: The outcome of the procedure, in this example, was successful.
  • report: Reference to any related diagnostic report, such as an operative report.
  • note: Additional notes or comments related to the procedure.

Please note that in real-world scenarios, many more elements and additional details might be present in an FHIR Procedure Resource depending on the complexity of the procedure and the specific use case. The provided JSON structure offers a glimpse of how some of the essential elements are represented in the resource.

Commonly used fields in FHIR Procedure Resource

The FHIR Procedure Resource offers a range of fields to capture comprehensive information about medical procedures. While the specific fields used may vary depending on the healthcare context and the complexity of the procedure, some of the most commonly used fields in the FHIR Procedure Resource include:

  • status: Indicates the status of the procedure (e.g., completed, in-progress, suspended, aborted).
  • code: Describes the procedure using a coding system (e.g., SNOMED-CT, CPT) to provide a standardized representation of the procedure type.
  • subject: References the patient on whom the procedure was performed.
  • performed[x]: Represents the date and time when the procedure was performed. It can be expressed either as a specific date and time (performedDateTime) or as an interval (performedPeriod) if the procedure spans a duration.
  • performer: Contains information about the individuals or entities involved in performing the procedure, including their role (e.g., primary surgeon, assistant).
  • device: Indicates any devices, instruments, or equipment used during the procedure.
  • location: References the location where the procedure took place (e.g., hospital, clinic).
  • reasonCode: Specifies the reason or indication for performing the procedure, using a coding system.
  • complication: Describes any complications or adverse events that occurred during or after the procedure.
  • outcome: Represents the outcome or result of the procedure (e.g., successful, partially successful, failed).
  • report: References any diagnostic reports or documents related to the procedure (e.g., operative report, pathology report).
  • note: Allows for additional comments or notes about the procedure, including relevant details not captured in other fields.

It’s important to note that FHIR is designed to be flexible and extensible, meaning that additional fields and extensions can be added to the resource to accommodate specific use cases or requirements in different healthcare settings. As a result, the actual set of fields used in an FHIR Procedure Resource may vary based on the needs of the implementing system or application.

A use case where FHIR Procedure Resource can be utilized

Use Case: Managing Surgical Procedures in a Hospital Setting

Description: In a hospital setting, managing surgical procedures efficiently and ensuring seamless communication between various healthcare stakeholders are critical for providing quality patient care. Surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other medical professionals need accurate and up-to-date information about scheduled, ongoing, and completed procedures. Additionally, administrators and quality improvement teams require data to analyze surgical outcomes, track complications, and optimize resource allocation. To address these needs, the hospital aims to implement a system that utilizes the FHIR Procedure Resource to manage surgical procedures and enable interoperability among different healthcare applications and devices.

Solution: The hospital’s solution involves leveraging the FHIR Procedure Resource to represent and exchange information related to surgical procedures. Here’s how the solution works:

  1. Procedure Scheduling and Tracking: The hospital’s scheduling system creates a FHIR Procedure Resource for each scheduled surgical procedure. This resource includes details such as the type of procedure, scheduled date and time, the surgeon, supporting staff, and any required equipment.
  2. Real-time Updates during Surgery: During the surgical procedure, the surgical team can update the FHIR Procedure Resource to indicate the current status (e.g., in-progress) and record any notable events or complications. Anesthesia equipment or monitoring devices can also add relevant data to the resource.
  3. Interoperability with Electronic Health Records (EHR): The FHIR Procedure Resource is integrated with the hospital’s EHR system. This integration ensures that the latest procedure information is accessible within the patient’s comprehensive health record, making it easier for care providers to view and understand the patient’s surgical history.
  4. Complication Tracking: If any complications occur during or after the surgery, they are documented using the FHIR Procedure Resource’s complication field. This information is crucial for post-operative care and quality improvement initiatives.
  5. Post-Procedure Follow-up and Outcome Analysis: After the procedure, the outcome (e.g., successful, unsuccessful) is recorded in the FHIR Procedure Resource’s outcome field. This data is valuable for analyzing surgical outcomes, identifying trends, and making informed decisions to enhance patient care.
  6. Interoperability with Research and Analytics Platforms: The hospital may use the FHIR Procedure Resource data to contribute to research studies or quality improvement initiatives. By anonymizing and sharing de-identified procedure data with research organizations, the hospital can contribute to advancements in medical knowledge.
  7. Integration with Mobile Applications: Mobile applications used by surgical teams can access and update the FHIR Procedure Resource in real-time, allowing them to stay informed about any changes or updates related to the procedure.

By implementing the FHIR Procedure Resource, the hospital can achieve seamless interoperability among various healthcare systems, improve communication, enhance patient safety, and facilitate data-driven decision-making. Additionally, the standardized representation of surgical procedure information ensures that data can be easily exchanged with external systems and contributes to the hospital’s efforts in improving healthcare quality and patient outcomes.

Here are a few general or interview questions related to the Procedure 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 Procedure Resource, and what is its primary purpose?

The FHIR Procedure Resource is a standardized data structure defined by the HL7 FHIR standard to represent information about medical procedures, treatments, and interventions performed on patients. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the exchange of detailed and standardized procedure-related data between different healthcare systems, applications, and devices, promoting interoperability and seamless communication in the healthcare ecosystem.

2. How does FHIR ensure interoperability among different healthcare systems and applications when dealing with the FHIR Procedure Resource?

FHIR achieves interoperability through its use of standardized data formats, such as XML and JSON, which are universally supported by modern computer systems. Additionally, FHIR adopts a RESTful API-based approach, allowing for easy and consistent data exchange between systems over standard HTTP protocols. The FHIR Procedure Resource follows these principles, enabling seamless communication and data sharing among disparate healthcare applications and systems, promoting a patient-centric approach to healthcare.

3. In a surgical scenario, how can the FHIR Procedure Resource be used to track and manage complications that occur during or after a procedure?

In a surgical scenario, the FHIR Procedure Resource complication element can be used to document any complications that arise during or after the procedure. The resource can contain details about the type of complication, its severity, relevant codes using standard terminologies (e.g., SNOMED-CT), and any actions taken to address the complication. By capturing this information in the FHIR Procedure Resource, healthcare providers can easily access and review the patient’s complication history, enabling better post-operative care and quality improvement efforts.

4. How can the FHIR Procedure Resource benefit healthcare organizations in terms of quality improvement and data analysis?

The FHIR Procedure Resource enables healthcare organizations to capture standardized procedure data, including outcomes and complications. By analyzing this data on a larger scale, organizations can identify trends, assess the success rates of different procedures, and measure the overall quality of care. The resource’s structured format allows for easy data aggregation, making it valuable for quality improvement initiatives, clinical research, and evidence-based decision-making.

5. Can you explain how the FHIR Procedure Resource supports the integration of medical devices used during a procedure?

The FHIR Procedure Resource includes the device element, which allows for the representation of medical devices used during a procedure. This element can reference specific devices by their unique identifiers or names, and it provides essential context about the devices’ roles in the procedure. Integrating device information into the FHIR Procedure Resource ensures that data from medical devices can be captured and shared alongside other procedure-related data, enhancing overall interoperability and data completeness in the healthcare ecosystem.

6. How does the FHIR Procedure Resource contribute to better care coordination in a healthcare setting?

The FHIR Procedure Resource facilitates better care coordination by providing a standardized way to represent and exchange procedure-related information among different healthcare stakeholders. When procedures are documented using the FHIR Procedure Resource, all involved parties, including surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and supporting staff, can access up-to-date and comprehensive details about the procedure. This shared information improves communication, reduces the risk of errors, and ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding the patient’s treatment plan and progress.

7. How can FHIR extensions be used to enhance the FHIR Procedure Resource for specific use cases?

FHIR extensions allow for the addition of custom or domain-specific data elements to the standard FHIR resources. In the context of the FHIR Procedure Resource, extensions can be used to add specialized information that may not be covered by the core elements. For instance, in a research study, additional fields could be added to capture study-specific data related to the procedure, or in a specific hospital, custom attributes might be used to document surgeon-specific preferences. By leveraging extensions, the FHIR Procedure Resource can be tailored to suit various healthcare scenarios and unique requirements.

8. Can you describe a scenario where the FHIR Procedure Resource was used to improve patient outcomes and care quality?

In a multi-specialty hospital, the FHIR Procedure Resource was implemented to streamline the documentation and tracking of surgical procedures. Surgeons could easily access the patient’s procedure history, including previous surgeries and complications, through the integrated EHR system. This comprehensive information improved pre-operative planning and reduced the risk of potential complications during subsequent procedures. The standardized representation of procedure data also allowed the hospital to analyze surgical outcomes, identify trends, and implement evidence-based practices, resulting in improved patient outcomes and higher-quality care.

9. How does the FHIR Procedure Resource align with regulatory standards for healthcare data exchange and interoperability?

The FHIR Procedure Resource aligns with international interoperability and healthcare data exchange standards. It adheres to well-established coding systems, such as SNOMED-CT and LOINC, ensuring consistency in representing clinical concepts across different systems. Additionally, FHIR’s use of modern web standards and security protocols ensures compliance with privacy and security regulations, making it suitable for handling sensitive patient data in accordance with regional and national regulatory requirements.

10. In what ways can healthcare organizations leverage the FHIR Procedure Resource to improve post-operative follow-up and patient care management?

Healthcare organizations can utilize the FHIR Procedure Resource to store post-operative follow-up information and patient care management data. This data can include details about post-procedure complications, recovery progress, medication regimens, and recommended follow-up appointments. By maintaining this information in a standardized and accessible format, care providers can easily monitor the patient’s recovery, track the effectiveness of treatments, and ensure timely and appropriate follow-up care.


In conclusion, the FHIR Procedure Resource stands as a crucial cornerstone of the HL7 FHIR standard, providing a standardized and efficient means of representing and exchanging vital information about medical procedures, treatments, and interventions in the healthcare domain. By adhering to the principles of simplicity, flexibility, and interoperability, the FHIR Procedure Resource empowers healthcare organizations to achieve seamless data exchange and communication across disparate systems, enhancing care coordination, and ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes.

With its well-defined structure and support for multiple data formats, the FHIR Procedure Resource fosters a patient-centric approach to healthcare, enabling care providers to access comprehensive procedure histories, make data-driven decisions, and tailor treatments to individual patient needs. Moreover, the resource’s ability to capture complications, outcomes, and additional clinical data enables meaningful analytics and quality improvement initiatives, contributing to advancements in medical knowledge and better-informed healthcare practices. As healthcare systems continue to embrace interoperability and embrace patient data exchange, the FHIR Procedure Resource remains a pivotal asset in promoting data-driven, efficient, and patient-centered healthcare delivery in the modern healthcare landscape.

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

Further Readings: FHIR Condition ResourceFHIR 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 |  FHIR Location Resource |  FHIR Organization Resource |  FHIR Account Resource |  FHIR PractitionerRole Resource |  FHIR Practitioner Resource |  FHIR Group Resource |  FHIR Person Resource |  FHIR Patient Resource | Dependency Injection in WPF ]

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