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ObservationDefinition FHIR Resource Proposal

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Owning committee name


Contributing or Reviewing Work Groups

FHIR Resource Development Project Insight ID


Scope of coverage

DataElement will define a single piece of information that can potentially be captured, shared, analyzed or displayed. It can cover all potential data elements that could be used in FHIR or any other healthcare exchange standard (CDA, v2, OpenEHR, CDISC standards, etc.). It will be used in the definition of data models and exchange/analysis standards to describe the data elements intended to be used. It will apply across all potential geographies, disciplines and healthcare settings.

RIM scope

Observation with mood code of DEF, though it involves representing *all* data elements as observation values - i.e. "everything's an OBX", including things like "primary practitioner's phone number" . . .

Resource appropriateness

Observation Master Files have been a core component of HL7 v2 almost since its inception. Common Data Elements have been a core part of healthcare, particularly on the clinical research side (NLM, NCI, etc.) for many years. The ISO 11179 specification defines exactly what Data Elements are. They are typically stored and accessed in registries as independent entities.

Expected implementations

  • ONC Structured Data Capture project. Possibly also by FDA, conversion from CDISC Share, etc.
  • Implementations of any v2 system looking to expose Observation master file content as a subscribable FHIR registry

Content sources

  • ISO 11179.3
  • HL7 v2

Example Scenarios

  • Define administrative gender as CDE
  • Define a LOINC lab test as a master file definition
  • An application wanting to display a list of observation types to create for a patient.

Resource Relationships

  • Observations may reference a DataElement (likely by an extension) to indicate what definition they're aligning with
  • Questionnaire questions may reference a DataElement (by extension) to indicate what data element they're capturing
  • Profile structure elements and extension definitions may reference an DataElement to indicate what standard data element they correspond to


For inclusion in 2nd FHIR DSTU ballot

gForge Users

N/A (necessary ids already have access)