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Explore and Make use of Nationally Defined Messaging APIs



Glossary of terms used in this specification

Glossary of common terms and abbreviations used in this specification.

The term Application Programming Interface is quite a confused term in the context of FHIR. Strictly speaking, an API is a set or services offered by a programming library that can be made use of by another application. Historically these would have been made available from a single machine although now they are available across networks.

In the service/message/document categorisation, an API is a service interface although many don’t consider it so. As technology became increasingly capable of supporting distributed operations, the differences between SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) and API became blurred. In the context of FHIR we define APIs as REST based interfaces.
Accredited System Identifier is an identifier used in Spine to reference an IT system that has been accredited for deployment into a specific health or care organisation
Digital Interoperability Platform is a name given to the full suite of services provided nationally to support and enable interoperability - primarily (but not limited to) those delivered through the Spine
Draft Standard for Trial Use
Electronic Business using eXtensible Markup Language is a standard for electronic messaging using XML
Fast Health Interoperability Resources is an open standard from HL7 for the exchange of health and care data
HyperText Transfer Protocol is the primary data transfer protocol used for web content and REST APIs
Javascript Object Notation is a lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write and easy for machines to parse and generate. It is based on a subset of the JavaScript Programming Language.
JSON Web Token is a JSON-based open standard (RFC 7519) for creating access tokens that assert a number of claims, typically used to transmit user identity information and other attributes about a user, system or device.
Light-weight Directory Access Protocol is an open, vendor-neutral, industry standard application protocol for accessing and maintaining distributed directory information services over an Internet Protocol (IP) network.
Legitimate Relationship Service is a system on the Spine used to track relationships between patients and professionals.
Messaging Exchange for Social Care is the main asynchronous messaging service used across health and social care. It works on the Spine infrastructure. It’s used to transfer electronic messages directly from one application to another, so different organisations can communicate securely. As an example, pathology labs use MESH to communicate test results to GP practices. MESH replaced the Data Transfer Service (DTS).
Message Handling System is a name used to refer to the messaging capabilities of systems sending and receiving messages from Spine
The Message Implementation Manual describes the HL7 messages used in messaging with the Spine - primarily legacy messaging using HL7v3 standards
NHS Digital
The National Record Location Service The National Record Locator Service is technical proof of concept acting as a national index to identify available records for patients and locate them across local and national care record solutions (such as SCR).
The Organisational Data Service is responsible for publishing organisation and practitioner codes, along with related national policies and standards. They’re also responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the organisation and person nodes of the Spine Directory Service, the central data repository used within various NHS systems and services.
The Patient Demographic Service is a national electronic database of NHS patients containing details such as name, address, date of birth and NHS Number (known as demographic information). (Implemented with HL7 v3)
Role Based Access Control defines roles and allowed business activities associated with a user (via their smartcard). (Implemented using SAML)
Representational State Transfer is a protocol based upon a network of Web resources (a virtual state-machine) where the user progresses through the application by selecting links, such as /user/tom, and operations such as GET or DELETE (state transitions), resulting in the next resource (representing the next state of the application) being transferred to the user for their use. Typically preferred due to it being “stateless” so no information about the client session needs to be maintained on the server.
Interfaces are often referred to as being “RESTful” when they follow principles of “REST” to avoid debate about whether they conform to “REST”.
Security Assertion Markup Language is an open standard for exchanging authentication and authorisation data between parties
The NHS Spine Directory Service is a component of the NHS Spine service comprising of the Spine User Directory and Spine Accredited Systems and Services. The SDS ensures that transactions/messages are only processed from authorised users and systems. (Implemented with LDAP)
The most comprehensive and precise clinical health terminology product in the world, owned and distributed by SNOMED International.
Simple Object Access Protocol is a protocol specification for exchanging structured information in the implementation of web services. SOAP allows processes running on disparate operating systems (such as Windows and Linux) to communicate using Extensible Markup Language (XML). Since Web protocols like HTTP are installed and running on all operating systems, SOAP allows clients to invoke web services and receive responses independent of language and platforms.
A collection of national applications, services and directories which support the health and social care sector in the exchange of information in national and local IT systems
Spine Security Broker is a system within the Spine used for managing smartcard authentication
Spine Secure Proxy is a system within the Spine used to securely broker API calls between external systems
Standard for Trial Use The original DSTU2 FHIR standard has been superseded by the new standard STU3. To reflect that important parts of the spec are well past the draft stage
User Role Profile is the information about the clinical role an authenticated user is authorised to perform.
Universally Unique Identifier is a 128-bit number used to identify information in computer systems.
eXtensible Markup Language is a protocol designed to store and transport data. XML was designed to be both human and machine readable.
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