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OpenHIE has dubbed 2013 as “the year of engineering”. This year is of particular significance because it is an opportunity for our OpenHIE subcommunities to collectively focus on the tasks of strengthening our community network of peer support, fostering our approach of open innovation, sustainability, and capacity development, and developing our technological tools such that they are more robust, useful, and better able to scale to a broader variety of countries and situations.

Our community is not simply a collection of technical specifications, but also a strong network of stakeholders who work together to solve problems around health information interoperability. In the “year of engineering”, we want to work towards best positioning ourselves to be effectively leveraged by current and future deployments of OpenHIE. Some of our aims are to define the communication processes and structure of our group, and ensure that our culture is strongly user-centric. A subset of community members will also gather together this year in order to create short, medium, and long term strategies for the OpenHIE community as we continue to grow.

OpenHIE subcommunities will also use “the year of engineering” as a time to enhance their software tools. For some groups, this activity will involve improving the existing software tools selected for or currently in use. Efforts will go towards building out those systems, eliminating their identified limitations, engineering new requirements if necessary, and making sure that the linkages to other OpenHIE efforts are well designed and built. These groups may also invest time to inform and support a standards-based approach for sharing data, which helps consumption of the tools in different contexts.

Other OpenHIE subcommunities have not yet selected a tool for use. For these groups, the “year of engineering” will involve exploration and planning so as to reach consensus on a software, the features it needs, how best to build it, and completing the development of that particular technology. This task may entail leveraging an existing tool and modifying it to meet user needs, or designing and developing a new tool from scratch. By the end of 2013, these subcommunities aim to have a solid base platform which may be extended and iterated on in coming years.

Our vision is for all health systems to be able to leverage a robust, highly-aligned health interoperability ecosystem which forms as a result of the collective activity within the OpenHIE community. Our community of practice, which has been self organized to interactively develop, refine and harden a collection of approaches and freely available standards based technologies, is central to achieving this vision. In 2013, we are collectively focusing on engineering our community to be stronger, more robust and user-centric, and best prepared to be leveraged by implementations for use in current, future, and more demanding environments.