The Special Topic Conference (STC) 2023 of the European Federation of Medical Informatics (EFMI) was hosted from 25 to 27 October 2023 in Turin. The EFMI's working group “FAIR data in Health Research Performing Organizations” and HL7 Europe organized a workshop on "Discussing FHIR implementations with regard to the FAIR data principles". NFDI4Health presented the FHIR implementation of the NFDI4Health metadata schema as an example of FAIR data structures.
The use of healthcare data for clinical research projects is becoming increasingly important. HL7 FHIR is a standard that is mainly used as an exchange format for data at the patient level and only allows for a rudimentary metadata description of research projects, study designs, result data records and study documents. At the same time, large research infrastructures such as the NFDI demand the application of FAIR principles which require the description of metadata according to defined standards. The HL7 FHIR standard offers an enormous potential for these applications. Therefore, the workshop aimed to evaluate the opportunities of adopting the FAIR principles as an accreditation model for Health Research Performing Organizations using HL7 FHIR. In this context, the FHIR for FAIR Implementation Guide, which was developed by the HL7 SOA working group, was introduced and its potential benefits were discussed. Practical examples that strive similar objectives were presented, including the FHIR Implementation Guide of the NFDI4Health metadata schema and the module research projects of the core data set of the Medical Informatics Initiative.
All participants agreed on the next essential steps: the comparison of existing approaches and the analysis of potential gaps. As a consequence, a call for implementations will soon be released, that requests the research community to apply the FHIR for FAIR Implementation Guide in their research projects.