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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Releases Azure API for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) as GA

Microsoft Releases Azure API for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) as GA

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In a recent blog post, Microsoft announced the general availability of the Azure API for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR), making it the first cloud vendor providing native support for this format in a managed cloud service. With the API, customers can quickly ingest, persist, and manage healthcare data in the cloud.

In recent years FHIR has become the global industry standard for exchanging and managing healthcare information in an electronic format. Cloud vendors like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google understood the unique value it offers to enable management of Protected Health Information (PHI) in the cloud. Hence, earlier this year, Microsoft launched the Azure API for FHIR as part of a series of APIs to help customers with machine learning on protected health information in the cloud. Moreover, the launch of the API was a follow up of the Public Cloud Vendors open-source release of FIHR Server on Azure in November 2018. 

Michael Hansen, principal program manager with Microsoft Healthcare Engineering, said in an Azure Friday episode on the Azure API for FHIR in July:

So, we have a managed service for this now in Azure where you can quickly go and spin up an FHIR API and be up and running.

With the Azure API for FHIR, customers can exchange data via an FHIR API, and use a managed Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering in Azure that is designed for management and persistence of PHI data in the native FHIR format. With the offering, Microsoft will take care of the operations, maintenance, updates and compliance requirements. This means that developers can focus on building solutions using the health data, and on leveraging other PaaS services available on the Azure Platform such as Data Factory, Storage, and Data Bricks for analytic purposes.


Furthermore, according to the announcement blog post, some of the key features of the current Azure API for FHIR GA release include:

  • Provision and start running an enterprise-grade managed FHIR service in just a few minutes
  • Support for R3 and R4 of the FHIR Standard
  • Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) – allowing you to manage access to your data at scale
  • Audit log tracking for access, creation, modification, and reads within each datastore
  • Secure compliance in the cloud: ISO 27001:2013 certified, supports HIPAA and GDPR and built on the HITRUST-certified Azure platform
  • Global Availability and Protection of your data with multi-region failover
  • SMART on FHIR functionality


Aridhia and Great Ormand Street Hospital (GOSH) in London are currently leveraging FHIR in the Azure Cloud to power their Digital Research Environment (DRE), serving both historical and current patient records data. Their chief research information officer, professor Neil Sebire, stated in the same announcement blog post:

We now have a unified API as a basis for designing, testing, and deploying the next generation of machine learning and digital services in the hospital for our young patients.

Next to Microsoft, other cloud providers like Google and Amazon are also investing in delivering cloud services to provide native support for FHIR. Google currently offers a Cloud Health Care API in beta, which allows customers to push their health data to advanced Google Cloud capabilities, while Amazon at the moment provides a reference for a serverless implementation of FHIR APIs on AWS.

The Azure API for FHIR is now available in some regions of the US, Europe, Australia and the Pacific. Furthermore, the pricing details of the API are available on the pricing page.

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