Create and Pilot a FHIR Vocabulary Server

Project Name: Create and Pilot a FHIR Vocabulary Server

Project Status: Awarded

Point of Contact: Jason Hall

Center: National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases

Keywords: Vocabulary, FHIR, Standardization, Authoring, API

Project Description: Vocabulary has long been an obstacle to interoperability and integration among systems. Though there are existing repositories for vocabulary, they don’t offer all the tools necessary to promote adoption and use of the standard value sets they contain. This project will use the evolving FHIR model to store the vocabulary for NHSN and two EIP projects, ABCs and MuGSI. The FHIR server will also offer the functionality missing from current repositories, namely online authoring and editing of vocabulary sets and industry standard APIs for easy retrieval and use by remote partners.

The purpose of the project isn’t to create instant interoperability, but to provide the platform for moving toward the harmonization and standardization necessary for it to occur. As projects’ variables and values are added, they’ll be made available to other projects, new or existing, to draw from and reuse and potentially standardize further.

Impact of project – This project will pilot the use of FHIR for vocabulary authoring and editing and for making the vocabulary available remotely to state/local health departments. This will be the first use of FHIR, an innovative, evolving HL7 standard that can be used as an alternative to existing HL7 v2 and CDA messaging. This project will also define a path forward for more efficient, standardized, and automated delivery of data needed for non-human surveillance, starting with animal rabies.

Scalability – The project will start with NHSN and two EIP projects, but has the potential to be used by any program at CDC for vocabulary authoring, storage, and retrieval.

Methodology – After the server is installed, we will gather data dictionaries for the selected projects. Some harmonization will be performed and the dictionaries will be formatted for loading into the server. At least one partner will test the retrieval of some vocabulary using an API.

Measure of Success – The project will create a FHIR vocabulary server with authoring capability and an API for automated retrieval. It will be piloted with variables and value sets from NHSN and the EIP ABCs and MuGSI projects. Retrieval will be successfully tested by at least one partner.

For more information about this project, please contact the CHIIC at or Brian Lee at

Page last reviewed: February 15, 2019