Adopting international standards within health research communities can elevate data FAIRness and widen analysis possibilities. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the mapping feasibility against HL7® Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources® (FHIR)® of a generic metadata schema (MDS) created for a central search hub gathering COVID-19 health research (studies, questionnaires, documents = MDS resource types). Mapping results were rated by calculating the percentage of FHIR coverage. Among 86 items to map, total mapping coverage was 94%: 50 (58%) of the items were available as standard resources in FHIR and 31 (36%) could be mapped using extensions. Five items (6%) could not be mapped to FHIR. Analyzing each MDS resource type, there was a total mapping coverage of 93% for studies and 95% for questionnaires and documents, with 61% of the MDS items available as standard resources in FHIR for studies, 57% for questionnaires and 52% for documents. Extensions in studies, questionnaires and documents were used in 32%, 38% and 43% of items, respectively. This work shows that FHIR can be used as a standardized format in registries for clinical, epidemiological and public health research. However, further adjustments to the initial MDS are recommended – and two additional items even needed when implementing FHIR. Developing a MDS based on the FHIR standard could be a future approach to reduce data ambiguity and foster interoperability.
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