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Medical records:
how are they shared?

Treatment providers can obtain their patients’ medical histories, aggregated from care sites across the country, through Particle’s API. Most clinical organizations are incentivized to make patient data available to one of many Health Information Networks. These networks contain records for over 90% of Americans, but are hard for all but the largest groups to meaningfully connect to.

It’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, Filtered Outputs and More

Which data format is right for you?

Download our spec sheet now.


Types of medical records:

FHIR and C-CDA are the two primary formats currently in use for patient medical record exports. They power record sharing with new providers and patients themselves.


This widespread data format paved the way for health record interoperability.

C-CDA stands for Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture. It’s the most widely used format for health information exchange in the US today.

C-CDA has been one of the default export formats for all certified EHRs - that is, US EHRs that comply with the Promoting Interoperability Programs standard - since 2014’s Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements.

While C-CDA is being phased out in favor of the next generation FHIR standard, its widespread availability makes it a key part of health IT.

C-CDA documents are generally represented in XML. They can include structured information like a medication list. They’re also good at capturing unstructured information, like images.

C-CDA is generally read-only (although the information can be parsed and uploaded elsewhere with some effort). It’s a library of templates, and can encompass information from a single point in time to an aggregation of one’s medical history.

C-CDA is also known for popularizing the Continuity of Care Document (CCD). CCDs are documents that give a snapshot of a patient’s health record in C-CDA format.

In reality, many CDA and C-CDA documents are limited in scope. There are plenty of documents under CDA for specific use cases. For instance, a Discharge Summary is limited to information about the release of a patient from care


The most full-featured health record API is developer-friendly and promoted by the US government.

FHIR (pronounced “fire”) is an acronym for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources and is a free, vendor-neutral standard for exchanging electronic health records. You might also see it called HL7 FHIR R4, HL7 v4, FHIR R4 or the HL7 FHIR standard.

Before FHIR, health data exchange involved standardized record exports. Now, FHIR supports a modern network that allows true interplay between electronic health record systems (EHRs). FHIR makes it easier for patients to move their health data, and for organizations to use that data at scale.

Several things make FHIR special when it comes to healthcare APIs:

Resources (aka Atomic Data)
These fundamental building blocks of FHIR are lightweight JSON snippets that can be created for every aspect of a patient encounter.

Interoperable, Bi-Directional RESTful APIs
The FHIR standard includes RESTful API protocols as well as data. REST architecture is familiar to developers, as it’s the same architecture that underlies enterprise tools, the internet, and modern APIs. It means that familiar HTTP and OAuth protocols play a part in its use.

Fast and Simple Design
FHIR empowers a more robust and flexible data model of the actual patient experiences and treatment plans than predecessors in the field. FHIR was built with the Pareto principle, or 80/20 design, in mind. The idea is that 80% of common use cases will be covered by the FHIR standard. In turn, individual FHIR implementations will handle the other less common 20%.

Support for Legacy Health Systems
FHIR can be expressed as XML, JSON or RDF. Your implementation of FHIR need not support all FHIR resources, but must support what your organization does. The FHIR standard doesn’t bring a system into or out of HIPAA compliance, but it can be implemented in HIPAA-compliant networks.


Flattened FHIR data

The reality is that working with healthcare data formats like CCDA and FHIR is a real challenge, requiring lots of development time and resources. We’ve taken FHIR one step further, transforming healthcare data into an easily ingestible flattened format for maximum speed and flexibility. By simplifying the way records are formatted, development teams no longer have to deal with messy C-CDA documents or make the uphill climb of building out FHIR infrastructure. Working with flat data enables development teams to immediately put their data to work and get to value fast.

What data is included?

Flattened datasets include a tabular view of a patient’s medications, immunizations, allergies, composition, documents, family history, encounters, labs, practitioners, conditions, procedures, insurance information, and vitals.


Minimize complexity

By simplifying the way records are formatted, development teams no longer have to deal with messy C-CDA documents or make the uphill climb of building out FHIR infrastructure.

Streamline implementation

To get started with the fastest interoperability APIs, care organizations often allocate at least 2 senior software engineers over a 12-14 week period. FOCUS cuts that time roughly in half by delivering well-formatted data. That’s about $6.7K in savings per week ($40K total) in resource allocation.

Get to value fast

FOCUS shifts the focus from implementation towards constructing more impactful treatment workflows. Leverage FOCUS data by linking related datasets to uncover valuable clinical context.


Understand which format is right for you

Patient data comes in several different formats, each with their own strengths. Our platform always lets you choose the format that fits your organization best.


Human-readable output

XML (primarily); PDFs + PNGs formats

Downloadable via REST

Particle stores data for 2 days

Easy to implement, but harder to parse

Being phased out (Particle can transform into FHIR format)


Human-readable output

JSON format

Follows REST FHIR R4 Spec

Particle stores data for 30 days

More intensive to implement, but easier to parse

New standard, more future compatibility


Human-readable output

Reduce Implementation Time and Costs

Find What You Need, Filter Out the Noise

Easy to ingest into your workflows right out-of-the-box.

Want the whole patient record? Parse through additional info beyond the filtered subset.

Ready to get started?

Let’s chat about how nationwide interoperability and insights from Particle can lead to higher revenue, greater efficiencies, and better patient outcomes in a dynamic and competitive market.