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· 2 min read

Synthetic FHIR data is increasingly popular for people who are building healthcare apps. It's useful for testing, prototyping, partnerships, sales and more. In the implementations we see here at Medplum, more than half use synthetic data in some form or another!

Synthetic FHIR data is just what it sounds like. It's realistic patient data but it's completely synthetic, and can be shared and used for testing. It's useful to think of synthetic data as a "population" or set of records that correspond to a group of fictional patients.

At Medplum, some of our customers use a project called Synthea to generate this data. Here is some sample data, that shows what the tool generates as raw FHIR Objects. Below are instructions on how to generate some sample data and load it into your Medplum account.

  1. Setup Java 1.8+

    1. Try to run java from a Terminal: java -version
    2. Verify that you have Java 1.8+ installed, if not download and install.
  2. Download Synthea

    1. Go to Synthea Releases Page
    2. Download the latest synthea-with-dependencies.jar
    3. Move the jar file to it's own directory
  3. Run Synthea

    1. Open a Terminal and navigate to your recently downloaded synthea jar.
    2. Run: java -jar synthea-with-dependencies.jar
    3. This will create a folder called output
    4. In the folder output/fhir, there will be 3 new files - one representing a hospital, one representing a practitioner, and the third representing a patient.
  4. Import the data

    1. Go to Medplum Batch Create Page
    2. Copy the contents of the files one at a time, in the correct order
      1. hospitalInformation first
      2. practitionerInformation second
      3. patient last
    3. Once you have imported the data, you can go to the Patients page to browse the data you created.

Let us know if you need assistance with your data sets - we would be happy to help.

· 2 min read

You can use Medplum as a tool to help you learn FHIR quickly.

Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) specification is a data standard for healthcare that defines how information can be exchanged between systems. (Read more about what FHIR is and it's philosophy and history here)

Major healthcare platforms such as Epic and Cerner, as well as big tech - Apple, Google, etc. support FHIR in various capacities, making it increasingly popular.

FHIR is very powerful and expressive, but that can make it hard to understand. It can feel intimidating, even for those with a healthcare background and a lot of domain expertise.

Medplum is designed to help you implement FHIR, of course, but also to help you learn FHIR. The app is built on a JAM stack (Javascript, APIs and Markup), and the API calls are... FHIR API calls!

Using Chrome Developer tools can see directly which calls are made to render the page and quickly get a feel for FHIR and how to write your own app. Here's a brief video tutorial:

FHIR Search Tutorial Video

To try for yourself:

  1. Pre-requisite, you have set up your Medplum account and created at least one patient instructions here and are using Google Chrome.
  2. Open the Medplum App and navigate to the Patient page.
  3. Open up Chrome Developer Tools and navigate to the Network tab and refresh the page instructions here.

Use the tool to help you construct the objects and searches that you need to build your application. Good luck, and let us know what you build!

· 2 min read

Developer infrastructure and tools for healthcare apps

Healthcare applications are famous for being complex, rigid and hideous, and we on the Medplum team have seen many up close and witnessed the problems firsthand. It's easy to dismiss the hideous phenomenon as lazy app developers or poor product management, but in reality, it's not that straightforward.

Delivering healthcare is very complicated - lives are at stake and tools and treatments are constantly evolving. Additionally, incentives and business models for patient care complex and heavily regulated. Any app built for healthcare by default serves many stakeholders.

Medplum approaches this complex environment from the developer perspective. We believe that a toolset that abstracts data, identity management, user interface and reporting will allow healthcare apps can be built quickly, and more importantly flexibly - i.e. they won't need to be re-written when new stakeholders are introduced. That's what we are building.

Our open source model is critical to building extensible, flexible apps. In healthcare, it is extremely common for vendors to lock in data. In the US - interoperability is regulated for this reason. Storing data natively in FHIR, and showing exacly how it is done, we believe, will prevent the rot that is so common in the industry.

Thank you for taking the time to check out Medplum. Please try it. We welcome your feedback.

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