· May 13, 2022 11m read

A simple example of a Fhir client in python

1. Fhir-client-python

This is a simple fhir client in python to practice with fhir resources and CRUD requests to a fhir server.

Note that for the most part auto-completion is activated, that's the main reason to use fhir.resources.


2. Prerequisites

Make sure you have git and Docker desktop installed.

If you work inside the container, as seen in 3.3., you don't need to install fhirpy and fhir.resources.

If you are not inside the container, you can use pip to install fhirpy and fhir.resources.
Check fhirpy and fhir.resources for morte information.

3. Installation

3.1. Installation for development

Clone/git pull the repo into any local directory e.g. like it is shown below:

git clone

Open the terminal in this directory and run:

docker build .

3.2. Management Portal and VSCode

This repository is ready for VS Code.

Open the locally-cloned fhir-client-python folder in VS Code.

If prompted (bottom right corner), install the recommended extensions.

3.3. Having the folder open inside the container

You can be inside the container before coding if you wish.

For this, docker must be on before opening VSCode.

Then, inside VSCode, when prompted (in the right bottom corner), reopen the folder inside the container so you will be able to use the python components within it.

The first time you do this it may take several minutes while the container is readied.

If you don't have this option, you can click in the bottom left corner and press reopen in container then select From Dockerfile

More information here


By opening the folder remote you enable VS Code and any terminals you open within it to use the python components within the container.

4. FHIR server

To complete this walktrough you will need a FHIR server.

You can either use your own or go to InterSystems free FHIR trial and follow the next few steps to set it up.

Using our free trial, just create an account and start a deployement, then in the Overview tab you will get acces to an endpoint like that we will use later.

Then, by going to the Credentials tab, create an api key and save it somewhere.

Now you are all done, you have you own fhir server holding up to 20GB of data with a 8GB memory.

5. Walkthrough

Complete walkthrough of the client situated at src/

The code is separated in multiple parts, and we will cover each of them below.

5.1. Part 1

In this part we connect our client to our server using fhirpy and we get our Patient resources inside the variable patients_resources.

From this variable we will be able to fecth any Patient and even sort them or get a Patient using some conditions.

#Part 1----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#Create our client, connected to our server
client = SyncFHIRClient(url='url', extra_headers={"x-api-key":"api-key"})

#Get our patient resources in which we will be able to fecth and search
patients_resources = client.resources('Patient')

In order to connect to your server you need to change the line :

client = SyncFHIRClient(url='url', extra_headers={"x-api-key":"api-key"})

The 'url' is an endpoint while the "api-key" is the api key to access your server.

Note that if you are not using an InterSystems server you may want to change the extra_headers={"x-api-key":"api-key"} to authorization = "api-key".

Just like that, we have a FHIR client capable of direct exchange with our server.

5.2. Part 2

In this part we create a Patient using fhir.resources and we fill it with a HumanName, following the FHIR convention, use and family are string and given is a list of string. The same way, a Patient can have multiple HumanNames so we have to put our HumanName in a list before puting it into our newly created Patient.

#Part 2----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#We want to create a patient and save it into our server

#Create a new patient using fhir.resources
patient0 = Patient()

#Create a HumanName and fill it with the information of our patient
name = HumanName()
name.use = "official" = "familyname"
name.given = ["givenname1","givenname2"] = [name]

#Check our patient in the terminal
print("Our patient : ",patient0)

#Save (post) our patient0, it will create it in our server

After that, we need to save our new Patient in our server using our client.

Note that if you start multiple times, multiple Patients having the name we choosed will be created.
This is because, following the FHIR convention you can have multiple Patient with the same name, only the id is unique on the server.

So why didn't we filled our Patient with an id the same way we filled his name ?
Because if you put an id inside the save() function, save will act as an updater before acting as a saver, and if the id is in fact not already in the server, it will create it as intended here. But since we already have Patients in our server it is not a good idea to create a new Patient and allocate by hand an id since the save() function and the server are made to do it for you.

Therefore we advise to comment the line after the first launch.

5.3. Part 3

In this part we get a client searching our patients_resources for a Patient named after the one we created earlier.

#Part 3----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#Now we want to get a certain patient and add his phone number and change his name before saving our changes in the server

#Get the patient as a fhir.resources Patient of our list of patient resources who has the right name, for convenience we will use the patient we created before
patient0 = Patient.parse_obj('familyname',given='givenname1').first().serialize())

#Create our patient new phone number
telecom = ContactPoint()

telecom.value = '555-748-7856'
telecom.system = 'phone'
telecom.use = 'home'

#Add our patient phone to it's dossier
patient0.telecom = [telecom]

#Change the second given name of our patient to "anothergivenname"[0].given[1] = "anothergivenname"

#Check our Patient in the terminal
print("Our patient with the phone number and the new given name : ",patient0)

#Save (put) our patient0, this will save the phone number and the new given name to the existing patient of our server

Once we found him, we add a phone number to his profile and we change his second given name to another.

Now we can save our Patient with the same function as earlier but this time, it will act as an updater and update in the server our Patient.

5.4. Part 4

In this part we want to create an observation for our Patient from earlier, to do this, we first search our patients_resources for our Patient, then we get his id, which is his unique identifier.

#Part 4----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#Now we want to create an observation for our client

#Get the id of the patient you want to attach the observation to
id = Patient.parse_obj('familyname',given='givenname1').first().serialize()).id
print("id of our patient : ",id)

#Set our code in our observation, code which hold codings which are composed of system, code and display
coding = Coding()
coding.system = ""
coding.code = "1920-8"
coding.display = "Aspartate aminotransferase [Enzymatic activity/volume] in Serum or Plasma"
code = CodeableConcept()
code.coding = [coding]
code.text = "Aspartate aminotransferase [Enzymatic activity/volume] in Serum or Plasma"

#Create a new observation using fhir.resources, we enter status and code inside the constructor since theuy are necessary to validate an observation
observation0 = Observation(status="final",code=code)

#Set our category in our observation, category which hold codings which are composed of system, code and display
coding = Coding()
coding.system = ""
coding.code = "laboratory"
coding.display = "laboratory"
category = CodeableConcept()
category.coding = [coding]
observation0.category = [category]

#Set our effective date time in our observation
observation0.effectiveDateTime = "2012-05-10T11:59:49+00:00"

#Set our issued date time in our observation
observation0.issued = "2012-05-10T11:59:49.565+00:00"

#Set our valueQuantity in our observation, valueQuantity which is made of a code, a unir, a system and a value
valueQuantity = Quantity()
valueQuantity.code = "U/L"
valueQuantity.unit = "U/L"
valueQuantity.system = ""
valueQuantity.value = 37.395
observation0.valueQuantity = valueQuantity

#Setting the reference to our patient using his id
reference = Reference()
reference.reference = f"Patient/{id}"
observation0.subject = reference

#Check our observation in the terminal
print("Our observation : ",observation0)

#Save (post) our observation0 using our client

Then, we register using the save() function our observation.

5.5. Conclusion of the walkthrough

If you have followed this walkthrough you now know exactly what does, you can start it using any python interpreter and check in your server your newly created Patient and Observation.

6. How it works

6.1. The imports

from fhirpy import SyncFHIRClient

from fhir.resources.patient import Patient
from fhir.resources.observation import Observation
from fhir.resources.humanname import HumanName
from fhir.resources.contactpoint import ContactPoint

import json

The first import is the client, this module will help us connect to the server, get and export resources.

The module fhir.resources helps us work with our resources and allow us, through auto-completion, to find the variables we need.

The last import is json, it's a module needed to exchange information between our 2 modules.

6.2. Creation of the client

client = SyncFHIRClient(url='url', extra_headers={"x-api-key":"api-key"})

The 'url' is what we called before an endpoint while the "api-key" is the key you generated earlier.

Note that if you are not using an InterSystems server you may want to change the extra_headers={"x-api-key":"api-key"} to authorization = "api-key".

Just like that, we have a FHIR client capable of direct exchange with our server.

For example, you can access to your Patient resources doing patients_resources = client.resources('Patient') , from here, you can either get your patients directly by using patients = patients_resources.fetch() or by fetching after an operation, like :'familyname',given='givenname').first() this line will give you the first patient that comes up having for family name 'familyname' and for given name 'givenname'.

6.3. Working on our resources

Once you have the resources you want, you can parse them into a fhir.resources resource.

For example :

patient0 = Patient.parse_obj('familyname',given='givenname1').first().serialize())

patient0 is a Patient from fhir.resources, to get it we used our patients_resources as seen earlier where we searched for a certain family name and given name, after that we took the first one that came up and serialized it.
By puting this serialized patient inside a Patient.parse_obj we will create a Patient from fhir.resources .

Now, you can directly access any information you want like the name, the phone number or any other information.
To do so, juste use for example:

This returns a list of HumanName each composed of a use a family a given
attributes as the FHIR convention is asking.
it means that you can get the family name of someone by doing :[0].family

6.4. Saving our changes

To register any change to our server we made on a fhir.resources or to create a new server resource, we have to use our client again.


By doing so, we create a new resource on our client, that is a Patient, that gets it's information from our fhir.resources patient0. After that we use the save() function to post or put our patient to the server.

7. How to start coding

This repository is ready to code in VSCode with InterSystems plugins.
Open /src/ to start coding or using the autocompletion.

8. What's inside the repo

8.1. Dockerfile

The simplest dockerfile to start a Python container.

Use docker build . to build and reopen your file in the container to work inside of it.

8.2. .vscode/settings.json

Settings file.

8.3. .vscode/launch.json

Config file if you want to debug.

Discussion (6)1
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Thanks @Lucas Enard ! This is a really helpful sample!

Just tried vs my FHIR deployment - works like a charm!

I didn't get through the advantage of having VSCode inside the container? Can't I do the same mapping source folder using volumes in docker-compose?

Also, is it possible to VSCode inside a container with IRIS? e.g. if I want to build something using Embedded Python?

Thank you for your feedback!

From what I know, you can use it locally without docker at all or use it with docker-compose and mapping if you wish to.
I did it like this because I wanted it to work without the need for the user to install anything on their computer (as I've made a c# and a java version too, it seemed easier to preinstall everything to have a clone and go github).

You can use VSCode with IRIS and IRIS Python / Embedded Python, for that I recommend you to check which is a proof of concept aiming to show how the iris interoperability framework can be used with embedded python while coding inside a container.

If you have any more questions don't hesitate !

Exactly, for instance in Python, if you wish to use this client outside the container you need to `pip install fhirpy` and `pip install fhir.resources` on your own computer.

Using the container, the requierments.txt file will be read by docker which will call `pip install requirements.txt` inside the container and install the right modules inside the container and not on your computer.

Same goes for java and c# !

It is possible using the `devcontainer.json` file which is inside the `.devcontainer` folder.

You can fill the property `extensions` with an array of extension IDs that specify the extensions that should be installed inside the container when it is created.

You can find an example in the formation I made to use IRIS and create a production in full Python here at the end of the file.