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DeviceDefinition FHIR Resource Proposal

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Owning Committee Name

Orders & Observations YourWorkGroupName

Committee Approval Date:

Please enter the date that the committee approved this Resource proposal

June 12, 2018 -

Contributing or Reviewing Work Groups

Healthcare Devices

  • Work Group Name
  • or link
  • or "None"

FHIR Resource Development Project Insight ID

PI 952

Scope of coverage

This is a specialized resource that defines the characteristics and capabilities of a device. Devices include durable (reusable) medical equipment, implantable devices, as well as disposable equipment used for diagnostic, treatment, and research for healthcare and public health, as well as devices such as a machine, cellphone, computer, software, application, etc. 

The DeviceDefinition resource is used to describe the common characteristics and capabilities of a device of a certain type or kind, e.g., a certain model or class of a device such as a x-ray model or personal wearable device model, whereas a Device resource documents an actual instance of a device such as the actual x-ray machine that is installed or the personal wearable device being worn

The DeviceDefinition is typically used catalogs, publications, or other use cases where the reference to a device is generically to a type of device, not a specific instance of a device. For example, a catalog of orderable devices, or the mapping of device specific test codes and result values to industry standards.

Example device definitions include specifications for an x-ray machine, implantable devices, lab analyzers, etc.

RIM scope

There does not appear to be a DeviceDefinition concept in the RIM, rather only the Device instance is referenced The Common Product Model touches on elements, but not all.

Resource appropriateness

The DeviceDefinition resource contains the "catalog" definition of a device - whether that definition is authored by the manufacturer or a regulatory entity and allows defining valid hierarchical device configurations (devices as part of other devices).

Device vs deviceDefinition: The Device resource is meant to refer to a physical instance of a device - hence having attributes like lot number, patient, location, operational status which the DeviceDefinition resource does not have.

Separating the DeviceDefinition from Device enables more clear distinctions and use considering a number of use cases primarily focus on Device, while others focus on DeviceDefinition. Furthermore, there will be many more Device instances than there will be DeviceDefinition instances. The DeviceDefinition would be used in catalogs and go through independent updates from the Device instance.

Expected implementations

Implementations of catalogs, e.g., LIVD as well as implementations needing to reference device definitions. The LIVD implementation guide adresses Lab device manufacturers to document recommended mapping of test codes and result values used on their devices using proprietary/local code systems to (inter)national vocabularies such as LOINC and SNOMED.

Content sources

  • HL7 FHIR Device and DeviceMetrics
  • HL7 V2 EQU and DEV segments

Example Scenarios

Ordering supplies using SupplyRequest would typically reference DeviceDefinitions rather than specific devices.

Ordering DME would typically reference DeviceDefinitions rather than specific devices.

Standard vocabulary mappings for devices typically define common mappings based on device models, thus DeviceDefinition rather than for each individual device.

Resource Relationships

  • Device
  • Composition
  • ObservationDefinition
  • Etc.


September 2018 inclusion in FHIR R4.

gForge Users

Eric Haas, Jose Costa Teixeira

When Resource Proposal Is Complete

When you have completed your proposal, please send an email to

FMG Notes