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HL7 FHIR JSON client for use in Clojure applications. This is a fairly low-level wrapper over the HL7 FHIR RESTful API and does not include any model classes (or anything of the sort) for the various HL7 resources. FHIR API calls wrapped by this library work with JSON data represented as Clojure EDN data.

The primary goal of clj-hl7-fhir is to make getting data into and out of an HL7 FHIR server as simple as possible, without needing to know much about the RESTful API (the URL conventions working with HTTP status codes, reading back data from paged bundles, encoding search parameters, etc). How you create and/or read the HL7 data and what you do with it is beyond the scope of this library.


[clj-hl7-fhir "0.2.9"]


This library is still early along in development, and some important features are missing at the moment:


This library only supports HL7 FHIR servers which support JSON. The FHIR specification requires that servers support XML, but JSON support is optional. There are no immediate or long-term plans to add XML support to this library.

All API requests sent by this library include an Accept HTTP header with the value application/json+fhir to indicate to the server what format requests and responses are to be in. This is handled automatically, and does not need to be specified by your application's code. As a result the optional _format parameter is not needed.


Most of the basic RESTful API operations are supported currently.

All of the functions that wrap FHIR API calls are located in clj-hl7-fhir.core:

(use 'clj-hl7-fhir.core)

General Concepts

Most API functions take a type parameter which should be either a keyword or string specifying the FHIR resource that the operation is dealing with. The resource can be specified either in "camel case" (e.g. "Patient" or "DiagnosticReport") or in "kebab case", which is what most Clojure code uses (e.g. :patient or :diagnostic-report). FHIR servers will typically return an error if you pass in a resource type that is not recognized.

Return values will almost always (if not nil) be a FHIR resource or bundle (as described here). The main difference is that a bundle can contain any number of resources (even zero) and also contains a bit of extra metadata about each resource contained inside. The functions which return resources as bundles will always return a bundle as long as an error did not occur, however the bundle may contain zero resources. The functions which return raw resources will either return a resource or nil on success. Exceptions to this will be noted in the individual function documentation (e.g. create and update).


All core API functions take a base-url parameter. This is the Service Root URL for which all API calls are made to.

For example, to use UHN's HAPI FHIR test server:

(def server-url "")

read / vread

There are a couple options for reading single resources by ID.

get-resource takes the resource type and ID and returns a FHIR resource. Alternatively, you can specify a relative resource URL instead of separate type and ID arguments. You can also optionally include a specific version number to retrieve.

get-resource-bundle works similarly to get-resource, except that it returns a FHIR bundle instead of a resource.

Reading via Relative URLs

Many FHIR resources will link to other resources using relative URLs. For example, an Encounter resource is associated with a Patient resource and the link is specified like so:

{:resourceType "Encounter"

 ; ...
 :subject {:resource "Patient/1234"}
 ; ...

Where Patient/1234 is a relative URL. get-resource can also accept a relative URL instead of the resource type and ID arguments. This can sometimes be more convenient when reading resources related to a parent resource that has already been retrieved.

; reading a single resource by ID
(get-resource server-url :patient 37)
=> {:address
    [{:use "home"
      :line ["10 Duxon Street"]
      :city "VICTORIA"
      :state "BC"
      :zip "V8N 1Y4"
      :country "Can"}]
    :managingOrganization {:resource "Organization/"}
    :name [{:family ["Duck"] 
            :given ["Donald"]}]
    :birthDate "1980-06-01T00:00:00"
    :resourceType "Patient"
    [{:use "official"
      :label "UHN MRN 7000135"
      :system "urn:oid:2.16.840.1.113883."
      :value "7000135"
      :assigner {:resource "Organization/"}}]
    [{:system "phone" :use "home"}
     {:system "phone" :use "work"}
     {:system "phone" :use "mobile"}
     {:system "email" :use "home"}]
     [{:system ""
       :code "M"}]}
    {:status "generated"
     "<div><div class=\"hapiHeaderText\"> Donald <b>DUCK </b></div><table class=\"hapiPropertyTable\"><tbody><tr><td>Identifier</td><td>UHN MRN 7000135</td></tr><tr><td>Address</td><td><span>10 Duxon Street </span><br/><span>VICTORIA </span><span>BC </span><span>Can </span></td></tr><tr><td>Date of birth</td><td><span>01 June 1980</span></td></tr></tbody></table></div>"}}
; trying to read a non-existant resource
(get-resource server-url :patient 9001)
=> nil

; reading a specific version of a resource
(get-resource server-url :patient 1654 :version 3)
=> { 
    ; ... similar to the above example resource return value ... 

; reading a resource via relative URL (this was taken from the 
; patient resource retrieved above)
(get-resource server-url "Organization/")
=> {:resourceType "Organization"
    ; ... full resource contents ommitted ...

; trying to read an invalid resource
(get-resource server-url :foobar 42)
=> ExceptionInfo FHIR request failed: HTTP 400


Obtaining a "revision history" for a resource can be done with the history function. It returns a FHIR bundle containing resources for each change made to the resource. This will include any deletions. Deletions are defined in a different format then other "normal" FHIR resources. collect-resources will not return deletions.

You can also use the standard FHIR parameters :_count and :_since to filter the returned versions (see here for more info).

; retrieving version history for a patient resource
; (showing an example result that includes a deletion for demonstration purposes)
(history server-url :patient 1651)
=> {:resourceType "Bundle",
    :id "416fda0f-2605-40be-b249-46dbc3c9fe36",
    :published "2014-08-06T10:33:42.976-04:00",
    [{:rel "self",
     {:rel "fhir-base", :href ""}],
    :totalResults "2",
    :author [{:name "HAPI FHIR Server"}],
    [{:deleted "2014-08-01T14:11:03.565-04:00",
      :title "Huckleberry LIN (University Health Network MRN 7007469)",
      :id "",
      [{:rel "self",
        :href ""}],
      :updated "2014-08-01T14:11:03.565-04:00",
      :published "2014-08-01T14:07:09.158-04:00"}
     {:title "Huckleberry LIN (University Health Network MRN 7007469)",
      :id "",
      [{:rel "self",
        :href ""}],
      :updated "2014-08-01T14:07:09.165-04:00",
      :published "2014-08-01T14:07:09.158-04:00",
      {:resourceType "Patient",
       {:status "generated",
        "<div><div class=\"hapiHeaderText\"> Huckleberry <b>LIN </b></div><table class=\"hapiPropertyTable\"><tbody><tr><td>Identifier</td><td>University Health Network MRN 7007469</td></tr><tr><td>Date of birth</td><td><span>01 January 1884</span></td></tr></tbody></table></div>"},
       [{:use "official",
         :label "University Health Network MRN 7007469",
         :system "urn:oid:2.16.840.1.113883.",
         :value "7007469",
         :assigner {:resource "Organization/"}}],
       :name [{:family ["Lin"], :given ["Huckleberry"]}],
       [{:system "phone", :value "555-9999", :use "home"}
        {:system "phone", :use "work"}
        {:system "phone", :use "mobile"}
        {:system "email", :use "home"}],
        [{:system "",
          :code "M"}]},
       :birthDate "1884-01-01T00:00:00",
       {:resource "Organization/"}}}]}

; only show history for items beyond a certain date
(history server-url :patient 1234 :_since "2014-06-01T00:00:00")


Searching for resources is performed via search. It returns a FHIR bundle containing all the resources that matched the search parameters given. If you provide no search parameters then all resources of the type given will be returned (though they will be paged likely, as per the FHIR specs).

Search Parameters

Search parameters are specified as a vector, where each parameter should be defined using the helper functions:

Helper functionDescription and usage example
(eq :name "smith")
ltLess then
(lt :value 10)
lteLess then or equal to
(lte :date "2013-08-15")
gtGreater then
(gt :value 10)
gteGreater then or equal to
(gte :date "2013-08-15")
(between :date "2013-01-01" "2013-12-31")

Note that you can also use a plain old string for parameter names instead of keywords if you wish.

If a parameter value needs to include a namespace, you can use the namespaced helper function to properly encode this information in the search parameters:

(eq :gender (namespaced "" "M"))
Date Parameter Formatting

There are also a few helper functions in clj-hl7-fhir.util for converting java.util.Date objects into properly formatted ISO date/time strings that match FHIR specifications:

FunctionFormatExample output
Search Results

As mentioned above, search results will be returned in a FHIR bundle, which contains a vector of all the matching resources. For convenience, you can use collect-resources to return a sequence of just the resources by passing/threading the results from search into this function.

  (search server-url ...)
=> ({:resourceType ... }
    {:resourceType ... }
    {:resourceType ... })
Paged Results

Larger search results will be paged. Some helper functions are available to make working with paged search results easier:

  • fetch-next-page takes a search result bundle and uses it to get and return the next page of search results. If there are no more pages of results, returns nil.
  • fetch-all takes a search result bundle, and fetches all pages of search results, and then returns a bundle which contains the full list of match resources.
  • search-and-fetch convenience function that is the same as doing: (fetch-all (search ...)). Takes the same arguments as search.

If you wish, you can specify :_count max-results in your call to search to specify an arbitrary number of results per page. As per the FHIR specifications, the server is free to return less then this number if it chooses to, but it will never return more then the amount you specify here.

; list all patients
; (http://server-url/Patient)
(search server-url :patient [])

; list all patients, but only show 5 per page of results.
; note that the above call (that does not specify a count) will also be paged too if
; there are a lot of results. the count parameter just lets you change the number of
; results per page to something else, it doesn't necessarily let you turn off paging.
; (
(search server-url :patient [] :_count 5)

; find all patients with name "dogie"
; (http://server-url/Patient?name=dogie)
(search server-url :patient [(eq :name "dogie")])

; find all female patients
; (http://server-url/Patient?
(search server-url :patient [(eq :gender (namespaced "" "F"))])

; also works (depending on the exact data and server spec compliance)
; (http://server-url/Patient?gender=F)
(search server-url :patient [(eq :gender "F")])

; find all male patients with a birthdate before Jan 1, 1980
; (http://server-url/Patient?birthdate=%3C1980-01-01&gender=M)
(search server-url :patient [(eq :gender "M")
                             (lt :birthdate "1980-01-01")])
; find all encounter (visit) resources for a patient specified by 
; identifier (MRN in this case)
; (http://server-url/Encounter?subject.identifier=7007482)
(search server-url :encounter [(eq :subject.identifier "7007482")])

; search using an invalid parameter (unrecognized by the server)
; (http://server-url/Patient?foobar=baz)
(search server-url :patient [(eq :foobar "baz")])
=> ExceptionInfo FHIR request failed: HTTP 400


Adding new resources is a simple matter once you have a FHIR resource represented as a Clojure map. Simply pass the resource to create. By default, if creation is successful the new resource is returned.

Optionally you can specify :return-resource? false to have create return a full URL to the newly created resource instead (this can be useful if you need the new resource's ID for example, as the returned FHIR resource would not otherwise include this information). You can use the parse-resource-url function to parse this URL into it's discrete components.

create will throw an exception if the resource you pass is not a Clojure map that contains a :resourceType key with a value that is anything other then "Bundle").

(def new-patient
  {:managingOrganization {:resource "Organization/"}
   :name [{:given ["Nurse"]
           :family ["Test"]}]
   :birthDate "1965-11-19T00:00:00-05:00"
   :resourceType "Patient"
   [{:assigner {:resource "Organization/"}
     :system "urn:oid:2.16.840.1.113883."
     :use "official"
     :value "7010168"
     :label "University Health Network MRN 7010168"}]
   [{:system "phone" :use "home" :value "(416)000-0000"}
    {:system "phone" :use "work"}
    {:system "phone" :use "mobile"}
    {:system "email" :use "home"}]
    [{:system ""
      :code "F"}]}
   :text {:div "<div/>"}}

; create a new resource. will return a map that should look almost identical to the 
; above (some servers may autogenerate the :text :div value, if so that value will 
; be included in the returned map of course)
(create server-url :patient new-patient)
=> {
    ; resource

; create a new resource, but only return the URL to the created resource
(create server-url :patient new-patient :return-resource? false)
=> "http://server-url/Patient/1234/_history/1"

; trying to create a resource with an invalid resource map
(create server-url :patient {:foo "bar"})
=> Exception Not a valid FHIR resource 

; trying to create a resource that the server rejects
; (exact HTTP status returned may vary from server to server unfortunately! some 
; servers do validation better then others and may return an HTTP 400 instead. 
; HTTP 422 is another result defined in the spec for an invalid/unusable resource)
(create server-url :patient {:resourceType "foobar" 
                             :foo "bar"})
=> ExceptionInfo FHIR request failed: HTTP 500


Updating existing resources is accomplished via update which takes an ID along with a FHIR resource map, similar to what you would provide with create. The ID of course specifies the existing resource to be updated. By default, if the update is successful the newly updated resource is returned.

Optionally you can specify :return-resource? false to return a full URL to the updated resource instead (this can be useful if you need the resource's ID/version for example, as the returned FHIR resource would not otherwise include this information). You can use the parse-resource-url function to parse this URL into it's discrete components.

Additionally, you can limit updates to only proceed if the latest version of the resource on the server matches a version number you specify by passing an extra :version version-number argument. If the latest version of the resource on the server does not match, the resource will not be updated and an exception is thrown.

update will throw an exception if the resource you pass is not a Clojure map that contains a :resourceType key with a value that is anything other then "Bundle").

(def updated-patient
  {:managingOrganization {:resource "Organization/"}
   :name [{:given ["Nurse"]
           :family ["Test"]}]
   :birthDate "1965-11-19T00:00:00-05:00"
   :resourceType "Patient"
   [{:assigner {:resource "Organization/"}
     :system "urn:oid:2.16.840.1.113883."
     :use "official"
     :value "7010168"
     :label "University Health Network MRN 7010168"}]
   [{:system "phone" :use "home" :value "(416)000-0000"}
    {:system "phone" :use "work" :value "555-555-5555"}
    {:system "phone" :use "mobile"}
    {:system "email" :use "home"}]
    [{:system ""
      :code "F"}]}
   :text {:div "<div/>"}}

; updates an existing resource. will return a map that should look almost identical to the 
; above (some servers may autogenerate the :text :div value, if so that value will be 
; included in the returned map of course)
(update server-url :patient 1234 updated-patient)
=> {
    ; resource

; updates an existing resource, but only return the URL to the updated resource
(update server-url :patient 1234 updated-patient)
=> "http://server-url/Patient/1234/_history/2"

; update an existing resource only if the version matches
(update server-url :patient 1234 updated-patient :version 1)
=> {
    ; resource

; NOTE: error responses are identical to clj-hl7-fhir.core/create. see examples for that
;       function for more information


Deleting existing resources is accomplished with delete which takes the ID of the resource to be deleted. The return value will typically be nil on success, though some servers may return an OperationOutcome resource that includes more details about the successful deletion.

You can use the helper function deleted? to determine if a resource has been deleted or not, since get-resource returns nil for both deleted resources and resources which do not exist at all (an important distinction, as in FHIR a deleted resource technically still exists under previous version numbers).

; delete an existing patient
(delete server-url :patient 1654)
=> nil

; try to delete the same patient again. nothing happens
(delete server-url :patient 1654)
=> nil

; try to delete a non-existant patient
(delete server-url :patient 9001)
=> ExceptionInfo FHIR request failed: HTTP 404

; testing if a resource has been deleted or not
(deleted? server-url :patient 1654)
=> true

; testing if a non-existant resource has been deleted
(deleted? server-url :patient 9001)
=> false


If you need to access FHIR resources on a server requiring authentication, you can wrap all of your FHIR calls in with-options which takes a parameter that can specify HTTP basic authentication, digest authentication or an OAuth bearer token.

The format you specify username/passwords for basic/digest authentication is the same as in clj-http: either a vector containing 2 strings (username and password) or a single string containing both separated by a colon.

; no authentication ...
(search server-url :patient [(eq :name "smith")])

; HTTP basic auth
(with-options {:basic-auth ["user" "pass"]}
  (search server-url :patient [(eq :name "smith")]))

; HTTP digest auth
(with-options {:digest-auth ["user" "pass"]}
  (search server-url :patient [(eq :name "smith")]))

; OAuth bearer token
(with-options {:oauth-token user-oauth-token}
  (search server-url :patient [(eq :name "smith")]))

Adding Custom HTTP Headers to FHIR Requests

If the FHIR server you're making requests to needs some additional HTTP headers for any reason, you can again use with-options to add these.

; all FHIR requests within the with-options body will have the specified
; HTTP headers included
(with-options {:headers {"FOO" "bar"}}
  (get-resource server-url :patient 42))

Self-Signed SSL Certificates

If you need to make request to a FHIR server over HTTPS but it is using a self-signed SSL certificate you will again need to use with-options and provide the :insecure? setting.

(with-options {:insecure? true}
  (get-resource server-url :patient 42))

Error Handling

All API functions throw exceptions via ex-info when an unexpected error response is returned from the HL7 FHIR server. An "unexpected error response" is anything that is not defined to be part of the particular operation's successful result(s). e.g. a "read" operation that returns an HTTP 400 or HTTP 500 status instead of HTTP 200.

NOTE: Some servers differ in how they return errors (e.g. different HTTP status codes), so you will want to be sure to test your code's error handling to be sure errors are caught correctly!

When this type of response is encountered, an exception is thrown which will contain the response, which can be obtained in your exception handler via ex-data. If the response is detected to be a FHIR OperationOutcome resource, it will be parsed and set as the response, otherwise the raw response body is set in the exception.

; trying to read an invalid resource
(get-resource server-url :foobar 42)
=> ExceptionInfo FHIR request failed: HTTP 400

; more detailed error information can be obtained via ex-data
  (get-resource server-url :foobar 42)
  (catch Exception e
    (let [operation-outcome (ex-data e)]
      ; TODO: proper error handling goes here
=> {:status 400
    :fhir-resource? true
    {:resourceType "OperationOutcome"
     {:status "empty"
      "<div>No narrative template available for resource profile:</div>"}
     [{:severity "error"
       "Unknown resource type 'Foobar' - Server knows how to handle: [User, Condition, Supply, GVFVariant, Organization, Group, ValueSet, Coverage, ImmunizationRecommendation, Appointment, MedicationDispense, MedicationPrescription, Slot, AppointmentResponse, MedicationStatement, SequencingLab, Questionnaire, Composition, OperationOutcome, Conformance, Media, Other, Profile, DocumentReference, Immunization, Microarray, OrderResponse, ConceptMap, Practitioner, ImagingStudy, GVFMeta, CarePlan, Provenance, Device, Query, Order, Procedure, Substance, DiagnosticReport, Medication, MessageHeader, DocumentManifest, Availability, MedicationAdministration, Encounter, SecurityEvent, GeneExpression, SequencingAnalysis, List, DeviceObservationReport, Claim, FamilyHistory, Location, AllergyIntolerance, GeneticAnalysis, Observation, RelatedPerson, Specimen, Alert, Patient, Remittance, AdverseReaction, DiagnosticOrder]"}]}}

Note that when using ex-data to retrieve more detailed error information, the map returned will always contain the following information:

  • :status the HTTP status code of the error response
  • :response the actual body of the response. parsed as JSON if the response was detected to be a FHIR response (e.g. an OperationOutcome)
  • :fhir-resource? will be true if :response contains FHIR content, false otherwise (in which case, :response likely contains a string of HTML).


Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.

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