FHIR Get Structured Record API

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This document specifies the technical details for accessing and using the Discovery Data Service FHIR® Care Connect API, for the use by interoperability system suppliers developing integrations against the service.

The Discovery Data Service (DDS) is an NHS owned service that provides low cost access to personal health and care data from combined primary, secondary, unscheduled and community health care data sets (https://discoverydataservice.org/Content/Overview.htm)

All data that is published or subscribed to and from DDS is governed by strict information governance rules and underpinned by Data Sharing Agreements, Sharing Flows and Subscriber Extract Projects (https://discoverydataservice.org/Content/Governance.htm)

DDS receives data from multiple source publishing systems in multiple formats and normalises the data into a common structure based on national care record standards.

DDS makes the data available to multiple subscribers in standardised formats, one of the common formats being FHIR®.

The Discovery FHIR CareConnect $getstructuredrecord API uses a secure authentication and authorisation service. This uses recommended standards for identity and access management, using OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0 methods, and also includes an additional security layer, where DDS checks it’s internal User Management service to ensure that each user is authorised with the necessary role based access profiles to use each particular application. This allows for tokens and user access to be centrally managed and revoked within the DDS User Manager application.

The following FHIR CareConnect FHIR STU3 resources are currently supported by the API.

AllergyIntolerance, Condition, MedicationStatement, Medication, MedicationRequest, Observation, Organization, Patient, Practitioner, PractitionerRole, Encounter, EpisodeOfCare, DiagnosticReport, FamilyMemberHistory, Immunization, Location, Procedure, ProcedureRequest, ReferralRequest, RelatedPerson, Appointment.

Two API calls are used for the FHIR CareConnect $getstructuredrecord API:

  • Authenticate
  • Authorise/GetRecord


Authenticate the client identity by passing in client credentials to receive an access token for the API.

The Client Credentials grant is used when applications request an access token to access their own resources, not on behalf of a user.

The authorization server MUST authenticate the client.


Passing this JSON POST body (no header required)

  "grantType": "client_credentials",
  "clientId": "fhir-api",
  "clientSecret": "6d8e1310-5e9c-4b62-b314-79fbd9c735d5"

The grantType parameter must be set to client_credentials.

Use 6d8e1310-5e9c-4b62-b314-79fbd9c735d5 as the client secret for demo purposes only; the client secret is unique to each client application and can be acquired by contacting the Learning Health Solutions Helpdesk at https://learning-health.co.uk/.

If the access token request is valid and authorized, the authorization server issues an access token in this JSON reply, or a 404 HTTP Not Found (Unauthorized Client) response if the request failed client authentication or is invalid.

    "access_token": "xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx",
    "not-before-policy": 1548863201,
    "scope": "profile email",
    "token_type": "bearer",
    "session_state": "97260f48-23c4-408d-8af2-d528fc17390c",
    "expires_in": 60

NOTE: A refresh token SHOULD NOT and is not included, as specified in the OAuth 2.0 standards.



Retrieve a patient's structured care record as a FHIR bundle in the FHIR CareConnect STU3 format. See https://fhir.hl7.org.uk/

This call uses the access token from the authentication API to authorise the client's access to the API, which will return the FHIR bundle if the client is recognised and authorised to use this service.


Passing this JSON POST body

  "meta": {
    "profile": [
  "resourceType": "Parameters",
  "parameter": [
      "name": "patientNHSNumber",
      "valueIdentifier": {
        "system": "https://fhir.hl7.org.uk/Id/nhs-number",
        "value": "5558526785"
      "name": "patientDOB",
      "valueIdentifier": {
        "system": "https://fhir.hl7.org.uk/Id/dob",
        "value": "1970-01-01"

Note: The patientDOB parameter is optional.

Set the Authorization header in the REST POST call to the value of the access_token returned from the authentication API.

Note: Access tokens expire if they are not used according to the value set in the expires_in attribute of the Client Credentials authentication method response.


If this API fails to authorise the access token against the Discovery identity and access management service, then an Unauthorised return value will be sent with a 401 HTTP Status (Unauthorized).

Success will return the FHIR bundle for the patient specified in the query parameters.

A list of NHS numbers that can be used in this Authorise/GetRecord paramaeter can be found here.



The Discovery Data Service is powered by Learning Health Solutions Ltd. https://learning-health.co.uk/