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Owning committee name

Orders & Observations WG

Interested Work Groups

  • Anatomic Pathology
  • Clinical Genomics
  • Imaging Integration
  • Pharmacy
  • Public Health and Emergency Response

FHIR Resource Development Project Insight ID


Scope of coverage

DEFINITION (SUBSTANCE): This resource will cover data elements, structures and relationships required to uniquely define and identify substances and specified substances within medicinal products or used for medicinal purposes, dietary supplements, food and feed additives, cosmetics, etc.

Any material is a substance. Substances come in a wide variety of physical forms and can pass through different states (ie. Gas, liquid, solid) while still retaining their physical composition and material characteristics.

Examples: Pharmaceutical substances, disposable supplies, durable equipment, implantable devices, food items, waste, traded goods

Substance is used when the focus is the material as opposed to the source of the material and the processing done on it - in which case Specimen is more appropriate.

RIM scope

Entity: Material (EntityClass="MAT")

Resource appropriateness

In healthcare, substances are used to treat patients, substances are analyzed for diagnostic, treatment, and research, subjects come in contact with certain substance thereby causing a need for healthcare, and so forth.

Expected implementations

Commonly as part of the use of other resources - such as MedicationPrescription or MedicationAdministration. A substance might also be related to dietary observations or adverse reactions.

Content sources

  • HL7 v3 Laboratory Standard - Normative
  • HL7 v3 IDMP Standard
  • HL7 v2.x
  • openEhr archetypes

Example Scenarios

  • A person believes that their hayfever is an allergy to pollen. An allergy test is performed using a number of different substances to determine if there is a specific cause.
  • A clinician has a specific 'recipe' for a wart treatment. This involves the creation of a solution form a number of different substances, not all of which are coded in commonly user terminologies.

Resource Relationships

  • Order
  • DiagnosticOrder
  • DiagnosticReport
  • ImagingStudy
  • Medication
  • Supply
  • Device
  • AdverseReaction


  • Approved by OO WG: May 2013 WGM
  • Planned Ballot: September 2013

gForge Users

  • Lorraine Constable
  • Patrick Loyd


  • Scope Challenge: When to use substance vs medication. Medication is a subtype of substance. Also need to come up with better differentiation between this and Specimen
  • Need explanation of relations to other resources