Importing cases from a remote FHIR service


CommCare can poll a remote FHIR service, and import resources as new CommCare cases, or update existing ones.

There are three different strategies available to import resources of a particular resource type:

  1. Import all of them.

  2. Import some of them based on a search filter.

  3. Import only the ones that are referred to by resources of a different resource type.

The first two strategies are simple enough. An example of the third strategy might be if we want CommCare to import ServiceRequests (i.e. referrals) from a remote FHIR service, and we want to import only the Patients that those referrals are for.

CommCare can import only those Patients, and also create parent-child case relationships linking a ServiceRequest as a child case of the Patient.

Configuring a FHIRImportConfig

Currently, all configuration is managed via Django Admin (except for adding Connection Settings).


Django Admin cannot filter select box values by domain. Name your Connection Setting with the name of your domain so that typing the domain name in the select box will find it fast.

In Django Admin, navigate to FHIR > FHIR Import Configs. If you have any FHIRImportConfig instances, they will be listed there, and you can filter by domain. To add a new one, click “Add FHIR Import Config +”.

The form is quite straight forward. You will need to provide the ID of a mobile worker in the “Owner ID” field. All cases that are imported will be assigned to this user.

This workflow will not scale for large projects. When such a project comes up, we have planned for two approaches, and will implement one or both based on the project’s requirements:

  1. Set the owner to a user, group or location.

  2. Assign a FHIRImportConfig to a CommCare location, and set ownership to the mobile worker at that location.

Mapping imported FHIR resource properties

Resource properties are mapped via the Admin interface using ValueSource definitions, similar to Advanced mapping using the Admin interface for data forwarding and the FHIR API. But there are a few important differences:

The first difference is that FHIRRepeater and the FHIR API use FHIRResourceType instances (rendered as “FHIR Resource Types” in Django Admin) to configure mapping; FHIRImportConfig uses FHIRImportResourceType instances (“FHIR Import Resource Types”).

To see what this looks like, navigate to FHIR > FHIR Importer Resource Types, and click “Add FHIR Importer Resource Type”.

Select the FHIR Import Config, set the name of the FHIR resource type, and select the case type.


The resource types you can import are not limited to the resource types that can be managed using the Data Dictionary. But if you want to send the same resources back to FHIR when they are modified in CommCare, then you will either need to stick to the Data Dictionary FHIR resource types limitation, or add the resource type you want to the list in corehq/motech/fhir/

The “Import related only” checkbox controls that third import strategy mentioned earlier.

“Search params” is a dictionary of search parameters and their values to filter the resources to be imported. Reference documentation for the resource type will tell you what search parameters are available. (e.g. Patient search parameters)

“Import related only” and the “Search params” are applied together, to allow you to filter related resources.

There is a second important difference between FHIRImportResourceType and FHIRResourceType: With FHIRResourceType, the ValueSource configurations are used for building a FHIR resource. With FHIRImportResourceType they are used for navigating a FHIR resource.

So FHIRResourceType might include ValueSource configs for setting a Patient’s phone number. They might look like this:

  "value": "phone"
  "case_property": "phone_number"

When we are navigating an imported resource to find the value of the Patient’s phone number, we don’t know whether it will be the first item in the “telecom” list. Instead, we search the “telecom” list for the item whose “system” is set to “phone”. That is defined like this:

  "case_property": "phone_number"

The third difference is that although the mappings will look the same for the most part, they may map to different case properties. This is because we have found that projects often want a mobile worker to check some of the imported values before overwriting existing values on the case. It is wise to confirm with the delivery team how to treat case properties that can be edited.

Testing FHIRImportConfig configuration

To make sure your configuration works as expected, add some test data to a FHIR server, and import it.

Here is a script I used for adding test data:

#!/usr/bin/env python3
from datetime import date, timedelta
from random import choice
import requests
import string

BASE_URL = 'http://localhost:8425/hapi-fhir-jpaserver/fhir/'  # ends in '/'

GIVEN_NAMES = 'Alice Bethany Claire Deborah Eilidh Francesca'.split()
FAMILY_NAMES = 'Apple Barker Carter Davenport Erridge Franks'.split()
NOTE = 'Patient missed appt. Pls follow up.'

def add_patient():
    given_name = choice(GIVEN_NAMES)
    family_name = choice(FAMILY_NAMES)
    full_name = f'{given_name} {family_name}'
    patient = {
        'resourceType': 'Patient',
        'name': [{
            'given': [given_name],
            'family': family_name,
            'text': full_name,
        'telecom': [{
            'system': 'phone',
            'value': create_phone_number(),
    response =
        headers={'Accept': 'application/json'},
    assert 200 <= response.status_code < 300, response.text
    return response.json()['id'], full_name

def add_service_request(patient_id, patient_name):
    service_request = {
        'resourceType': 'ServiceRequest',
        'status': 'active',
        'intent': 'directive',
        'subject': {
            'reference': f'Patient/{patient_id}',
            'display': patient_name,
        'note': [{
            'text': NOTE,
    response =
        headers={'Accept': 'application/json'},
    assert 200 <= response.status_code < 300, response.text

def create_phone_number():
    number = ''.join([choice(string.digits) for _ in range(9)])
    return f'0{number[0:2]} {number[2:5]} {number[5:]}'

if __name__ == '__main__':
    patient_id, patient_name = add_patient()
    add_service_request(patient_id, patient_name)

From a Python console, run your import with:

>>> from corehq.motech.fhir.tasks import run_daily_importers
>>> run_daily_importers()