Microsoft unveils FHIR server for Azure cloud

Microsoft released an open-source project on code repository GitHub called FHIR Server for Azure to assist developers exchange and manage healthcare data stored on the company's cloud.

FHIR, which stands for fast healthcare interoperability resources, is a widely used interoperability standards framework. Microsoft's goal for FHIR Server for Azure is "to make it easier for all organizations working with healthcare data to leverage the power of the cloud for clinical data processing and machine learning workloads," Heather Jordan Cartwright, general manager of Microsoft Healthcare, wrote in a company blog post announcing the project.

FHIR Server for Azure offers developers immediate support infrastructure for provisioning in the cloud. "Developers can save time when it's required to integrate a FHIR server into an application or use it as a foundation to customize a unique FHIR service," Ms. Cartwright wrote.

"We want to make it easier and more secure for organizations working with healthcare data. We're starting with FHIR Server for Azure, and we plan to enable a broad set of core services in the Microsoft Cloud to support healthcare interoperability standards like FHIR," she wrote.

The FHIR Serve for Azure is build in layers to allow developers to customize how it is implemented or extend capabilities as needed. The layers are listed below, as described in the blog post:

  • Hosting layer: Supports hosting in different environments, with custom configuration of Inversion of Control containers
  • RESTful API layer: The implementation of the APIs, or application programming interfaces, defined by the HL7 FHIR specification
  • Core logic layer: The implementation of the core FHIR logic
  • Persistence layer: A pluggable persistence provider enabling the FHIR server to connect to virtually any data persistence utility

In August, Microsoft was one of several technology giants — including Amazon, Google and IBM — to sign a pledge vowing to remove the barriers to healthcare interoperability, with a special focus on artificial intelligence and cloud technologies.

For more information about the FHIR Server for Azure, click here.

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