By: Dr. Araya Abrha Medhanyie, Benti Ejeta, Carl Fourie, Dana Acciavatti, Daniel Futerman, Jamie Thomas, Jennifer Shivers, Paul Biondich
In November of 2019, the OpenHIE community held its second Community Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The meeting occurred from November 4-8th and was held at the Hyatt Regency. With over 220 participants from 25 countries and representing 71 organizations this year’s meeting was quite an experience for our emerging community of practice. Established in 2013, OpenHIE is a community of practice focused on using standards to provide better health information exchange in the digital age. This year’s Community Meeting was particularly exciting because planning for the event involved incorporating community member requests shared during our inaugural event held in Tanzania in 2018.
Participants of the OpenHIE community of practice are dedicated to improving the health of the underserved through open and collaborative, development and support of country driven, large scale health information sharing architectures. Thus we;
OpenHIE Community Meetings provide an opportunity for government officials, implementers, and tech developers who participate in our community of practice to come together to connect and learn from each others shared experiences. Solutions to common problems are identified quickly when people engage in face-to-face discussions over a week long event.
The Architecture Community face-to-face (F2F) was a pre-meeting hosted on Sunday, November 3rd. The purpose was to bring together OpenHIE’s Architecture community to review the current state of the OpenHIE architecture, identify current and upcoming needs, and discuss strategies for advancing priority areas that have not yet been addressed virtually. Hosting the F2F as an open meeting allowed anyone interested to engage and get a sense of the aspects and engagement strategies of the OpenHIE Architecture community. With a sense of “reunion” and a spirit of “let’s get things moving” the attendees were excited to engage and advance topics into actionable items.
The discussion centered around OpenHIE testing, reference software, FHIR and an engagement strategy. The meeting resulted in gathering information for the OpenHIE Architecture community roadmap for 2020. Items that will be addressed in 2020 include:
The OpenHIE Academy was the first time introductory courses around OpenHIE have been offered. The Academy took place prior to the start of the general meeting and was created in response to direct feedback from community members to offer sessions that provide foundational knowledge into OpenHIE concepts and background, so that those new to the Community go into the week with shared vocabulary and context.
Intro courses provided essential history, concepts, and competencies to understand the role of OpenHIE as a health information exchange and how to utilize the architecture to enhance data for decision making at all levels of the health system. The Academy was sponsored by Mekelle University College of Health Sciences, whose faculty were engaged in the planning process and as course facilitators, along with subject matter experts from the global community.
Intro Courses offered to event participants;
With many of the attendees having been at the Academy, the room was filled with excitement and anticipation of the formal conference to get underway. Dr. Yekoyesew Worku the Minister of Health’s Chief of Staff opened the event. Director General Dr. Yekoyesew Worku noted that Ethiopia is undertaking massive initiatives to digitize health information and its systems to transform the quality and use of data for informed decisions.
Hibret Alemu, Data Use Partnership’s Project Director presented Ethiopia’s Health Sector Status. Alemu represented on behalf of Mrs. Biruk Abate, Director of Policy Plan Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate Director. Alemu reported births attended in a facility increased from 5% in 2005 to 48% in 2019. He attributed this gain to the ministry’s commitment to building different health information management systems which play a significant role in enhancing data quality and use.
Each OpenHIE Community Meeting incorporates “unconference” sessions, allowing participants to determine portions of the agenda. The goal of having some predetermined sessions and unconference sessions is to ensure community members get what they need from the conference and enable time for relevant discussions. This innovative approach of unconferencing has been applied at conferences in the technology sector (e.g. Google, OpenMRS) and has been well received as an approach to customize a conference to meet the peer-to-peer learning goals of participants.
This year OpenHIE tried to improve upon this format by the collection of unconference session suggestions from community members ahead of the OpenHIE Community Meeting. Suggested topics were then posted on the OpenHIE wiki for other community members to view and vote on if they also were interested in the topic. The goal of this approach was to better understand what community members were hoping to hear about and share with each other at the event. Overall this approach was a success as the planning team was able to group together similar topics, connect individuals with similar interests and make sure there was space in the agenda for pressing topics of interest.
An exciting occurrence at this year’s OpenHIE Community meeting was the openIMIS Developers Workshop running in parallel. The GIZ team and the broader openIMIS developer community worked with the OpenHIE organizing team early on through the planning of the event to take advantage of the audience and the opportunities of shared learnings. The side event saw the openIMIS developers working on and showcasing the health insurance software. Excitingly some of the data exchange projects of data flowing from OpenMRS/Bahmni to openIMIS to administer health insurance claims data; as well as data flowing to DHIS2 to make use of the analytics aspects. The openIMIS community also contributed some of their design thinking and workflows to the OpenHIE Health Finance towards universal health coverage community (UHC) as a base to start refining the UHC communities thinking about workflows relating to health insurance.
The OpenHIE Hackonnect-a-thon brings together two exciting types of meetings. It combines the principles of a connectathon and a hackathon to provide a space for teams to connect their existing tools to OpenHIE workflows and components, and support new data exchange use cases. Each year we as a community learn a little more on how we engage at the technical events.
This year, a range of technical challenges and topics were proposed, covering both country and community priorities. The proceedings began with a high-level overview of each proposed topic, after which attendees self-organised into smaller working groups to focus on particular interoperability challenges, including:
The teams worked throughout the day to produce several working prototypes, new and revised sets of documented workflows, and the starting points for continued efforts on existing projects and initiatives. In the day’s recap, participants made the suggestion to extend the event to include an additional day of hacking, and dedicated time beforehand to better establish topics and teams before kicking off proceedings on the day.
Over the last year the OpenHIE community has been able to establish new workgroups within OpenHIE around supply chain and health financing. We’ve also improved engagement with standards development communities, and sharing the proceeds of our work to provide more “self service” for countries.
While in the early years of our community of practice, we were focused on building consensus around our vision for health information exchange. Then over the last few years we have been working to support planning and adoption of eHealth architecture. Now as we go into the next phase for OpenHIE we are focused on how to better support ministries of health and implementation of architecture to provide patients with better care. Our hope for the community is it will continue to grow by providing a place for people to connect and share knowledge around HIE solutions. Here are some areas of focus for 2020:
2020 is a big year for OpenHIE and we are very excited to see our vision continue to spread and bring growth to the community. Details around this years meeting in Malawi will be coming out soon and we look forward to having you join us #WeAreOHIE!
Also, if your country is interested in bringing collaboration around HIE to your country please see how to apply now for our 2021 OpenHIE Community Meeting on our blog.
For the last two years our OpenHIE (OHIE) community has gathered to learn from one another and to celebrate each others’ accomplishments. In 2018, at our inaugural meeting in Tanzania, 186 stakeholders, implementers, and subject matter experts from over 60 organizations came together to share stories, learn more about interoperability, and to collaborate on solutions for health information exchange. In 2019 more than 220 participants representing 71 organizations from 25 countries were hosted by the Ethiopia Ministry of Health to learn about and discuss how to better utilize OpenHIE’s architecture to enhance data for decision making. Later this year, Malawi will host our 3rd annual OpenHIE Community Meeting in Lilongwe. Get information as it becomes available by following @OpenHIE on Twitter.
One goal of #OHIE20 in Malawi is to announce the location of #OHIE21 so we are looking for those interested in hosting the 2021 event! If you are interested in hosting the 2021 OpenHIE Community Meeting, please review the following criteria developed to help ensure success for the host country in their preparations for this event. The following are not requirements, but are considerations outlined to serve as general guidelines to countries and the OpenHIE community:
If interested, please fill in the following INTEREST FORM HERE
If you have any questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact our Community Manager Jamie Thomas directly at email@example.com
The application deadline is: 19 April 2019 by 11:59 pm in the applicants time zone.
The OpenHIE community has expressed an interest in using a more collaborative platform to share knowledge and network. After looking at different tools we’ve chosen Discourse and been working to stand up a customized version of the platform to meet our community’s needs.
Some of you may be aware (or already be using Discourse – https://discourse.ohie.org) but for those who are not familiar with the platform here is a little taste of what it can do for our community.
To see another instance of Discourse in action, check out https://talk.openmrs.org/categories and see how OpenMRS is using it to bring developers, implementers, and users together.
To see how OpenHIE’s new community site is set up, check out https://discourse.ohie.org and start testing out the new categories. We want to hear your feedback on how you think the site looks so far so under the “Site Feedback” category please post questions about the site, its organization, how it’s working for you and how it could be improved.
The plan is to put the current OpenHIE mailing lists in read-only mode over the next few weeks and as you will see old posts from the various mailing lists have already been moved to a “Legacy” category so you can claim/own your old posts and we can start recognizing major contributors immediately!
The aim is to migrate to https://discourse.ohie.org completely by mid December, with the official closing of mailing lists and launch of the new site on December 13th.
The OpenHIE Architecture Specification Version 2.0 is now available from the OpenHIE web site.
OpenHIE is a Global Mission-Driven Community of Practice dedicated to improving the health of the underserved through open and collaborative, development and support of country driven, large scale health information sharing architectures. The OpenHIE community supports interoperability by creating a reusable architectural framework that introduces a service oriented approach, maximally leverages health information standards, enables flexible implementation by country partners, and supports interchangeability of individual components.
The newest OpenHIE Architecture Specification outlines the reusable architectural framework and data exchange practices that constitute OpenHIE. However, the framework is intended to be constantly evolving as standards and implementer needs change over time. Therefore the OpenHIE Architecture Specification is a living document created by the OpenHIE Community and based upon real-world implementations and needs.
The purpose of the specification release is to:
We believe that diverse input and viewpoints make the architecture stronger. You are encouraged to provide comments, propose edits, or other suggestions for future specification versions on our feedback page. If you have questions or need help unrelated to this guide, please contact us. In addition, the OpenHIE Architecture Community invites your collaborative input as we move forward together. Please join us in this journey of establishing data exchange practices and patterns. Our meeting schedule is posted on the OpenHIE wiki.
Written By: Jennifer Shivers, OpenHIE Associate Architect
On behalf of the entire OpenHIE community, we are excited to announce the 2nd OpenHIE Community Meeting focused on improving the use of data, which will be held November 4-8 at the Hyatt Regency in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Concurrent with this event will be an OpenHIE Academy, that will provide training and lessons learned to help guide design and implementation of health information architectures, standards and exchanges. Stay tuned for more details about the agenda and how to book your hotel room.
OpenHIE community meetings are intended to directly support countries as they grapple with the many challenges inherent in driving large-scale health information-sharing architectures. We invite government officials, and the implementers and developers seeking to support them, to participate in this event. This meeting will be an amazing opportunity for peer mentorship, where strategies and approaches to empower pragmatic, standardized, and sustainable health information sharing are shared. It’s also a great chance to network and share your current and future plans.
We look forward to seeing you in November!
Who should attend?
Why you should attend!
This event provides a unique opportunity for implementers to collaborate and improve their knowledge of OpenHIE, share needs, and propose new priorities. Additionally, government leaders will gather and share approaches to plan for and design interoperable solutions. For more details, please visit http://ohie.org/OHIE19
Community Meeting Agenda:
The OpenHIE Community Meeting agenda will feature several tracks, including those specifically geared toward government leaders as well as one for OpenHIE Implementers. Additional tracks for developers will also be included to connect the community meeting with the OpenHIE Academy. In additional to these pre-arranged sessions, the agenda will have several open “unconference” sessions where community members will propose presentations on topics relevant to their OpenHIE implementations. Stay tuned for more details on ways to propose session ideas.
More information about Registration, Accommodations, Visa Invitation Letters and other logistics will be communicated/released over the next few months. Please watch http://ohie.org/OHIE19 for new details.
Last year our OpenHIE (OHIE) community gathered in Tanzania to learn from each other and celebrate each others accomplishments. The inaugural meeting was held in Tanzania where 186 stakeholders, implementers, and subject matter experts from over 60 organizations came together to share stories, learn more about interoperability and collaborate on solutions for health information exchange. We have begun planning for #OHIE19 and are looking for anyone interested in hosting this year’s conference!
If you are interested in hosting the 2019 OpenHIE Community Meeting, please review the following criteria we’ve developed to help ensure success and guide you in the preparations for this event. The following are by no means requirements, but hopefully will serve as helpful guidance to countries and the community:
If interested, please fill in the following INTEREST FORM HERE
We will reach out to those of you that have previously applied to host this event.
If you have any questions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . One can also get in touch directly with Jamie Thomas: email@example.com
By: Amanda BenDor, Paul Biondich, Carl Fourie, Eden Tarimo, and Jamie Thomas
Organizing an international five-day meeting for a diverse digital health community is no easy task. There are venues to secure, agendas to develop, and invitation letters to draft. Yet the leaders and innovators of the OpenHIE community were driven to ensure that we all had a place where we could gather to get to know and learn from each other about health information exchange.
186 people from approximately 61 organizations around the world took part in the inaugural OpenHIE Community Meeting in Arusha, Tanzania for the five-day event. This meeting provided a unique opportunity for implementers to collaborate and improve their knowledge of OpenHIE, share user stories, and propose new priorities. Government leaders were able to learn from each other about approaches to designing interoperable solutions, as well as governance frameworks that have been applied for health system information exchange.
The organizing committee set out with several objectives for the inaugural meeting. Wanting to be sure to connect implementers and widen the network. Provide a space for community members to share their experiences, harmonize tools, contribute to OpenHIE global goods, and advance conversations and technologies to enable information exchange. As well as provide policy-makers (and those new to the community) a better understanding of OpenHIE and its role in promoting interoperability and systems thinking.
The meeting was officially co-inaugurated by the Tanzanian Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC), Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya; and PATH President and CEO, Mr. Steve Davis.
In his opening speech, Dr. Mpoki emphasized the following key notes:
Ahead of the meeting, the OpenHIE wiki was updated with sessions that covered four agenda tracks: Leadership and Governance, Facilitating Data Exchange, Standards and Interoperability, and Implementers’ Experiences. However, much of the agenda was intentionally left blank. Why?
OpenHIE wanted this to feel like a community event, creating a forum for people to interact, learn, and share outside of the traditional conference framework. One way of doing this was to facilitate an “unconference” agenda, whereby attendees propose sessions. On the first day of the conference, a board was filled with session topic ideas, ranging from eIDSR to OpenHIE training to the Interoperability Maturity Model. Participants then voted on the sessions they wanted to attend by placing stickers next to session topics on the board. By the first coffee break of the day, the community meeting agenda began to take shape.
“I really enjoyed the new ideas and variety of session organizers during the unconference sessions at the OpenHIE Community Meeting. The unconference sessions were a refreshing mix of new ideas and different approaches sourced directly from digital health leaders across the continent.”
– Wayan Vota, Director of Digital Health, IntraHealth
Over the course of the event there was a great range of sessions covering a multitude of topics. Some strong highlights from the Interoperability and Standards track included the deep interest in how standards are applied to projects. Teams shared their experiences as they undertook the process of designing with standards and patterns in mind too. As well as a fishbowl and Q&A session with OpenHIE team members about how standards and profiles evolve and what it takes to go to a connectathon.
The host country, Tanzania, thoughtfully shared their experience around implementing an HIE and some of the challenges and outputs around that. This level of sharing gave great context to the event site visits too to see some of the HIE in action. There was also interesting input from other countries including South Africa with the African Health Information Exchange initiative and colleagues from Europe as they shared their experiences too.
The work that has been undertaken by Jembi and Intellisoft teams in addressing cross border data exchange was of great interest as well as the technologies and approaches to solving this problem. This level of knowledge sharing shed light on ideas of where HIE’s could be going in the future.
An exciting impromptu development during the event was, true to community and OpenHIE style, an unconference style software and solution showcase. This allowed teams with software and solutions to “grab a laptop”, setup at a table and demonstrate what they had to offer/show to interested members of the community. There was a great deal of interest and additional investment of time by the community for these showcases. This will most definitely be something considered for future events.
These are but a few of the highlights of the week!
Participants at the event, and the OpenHIE community as whole, support system interoperability and information exchange with the ultimate goal of improving health. The belief is that making data easier to access and understand will help health workers, clients, and others in the health ecosystem provide better, faster, and more informed services, from refilling a stock request at a warehouse to accessing a patient’s electronic medical record to consulting before providing care.
As part of the OpenHIE Community Meeting, participants had the opportunity to visit health facilities (10 health facilities) in near Arusha city, Arusha district and Meru district to see the Tanzania Immunization Registry (TImR) implemented by the Better Immunization Data (BID) Initiative which used components of the OpenHIE architecture. Each site visit include no more than 10 people, and provided a demonstration of the immunization registry system in operation at the site. The site visit also highlighted how electronic stock management and the immunization registry make the daily lives of health workers easier. As well as allowing more health workers at multiple facilities access to a patient’s data, giving patients the freedom to travel to the facility most convenient to them for vaccinations.
For those who are unfamiliar with TImR it was introduced in 2016 and has been integrated with the countries Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS) to make up Tanzania’s Electronic Immunization System (EIS). TImR offers the following benefits:
Barcodes used by TImR uniquely identify each client and can also be used to search the immunization registry for returning clients by using a simple handheld barcode scanner, synced with the TImR device. This feature helps healthcare providers to see a high number of clients in a short time. TImR is able to work offline in addition to online, which enables the immunization service to be functional in areas without reliable internet access. Information collected in the offline mode is later transferred to the central server to enable information exchange with other facilities.
If you would like to learn more watch the video below as Walter Michael Ndesanjo with Tanzania’s Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children discusses the TImR system.
The first OpenHIE Community Meeting was followed by a two day Connectathon/Hackathon. This event provided technical attendees a space to get their hands and minds into some of the deeper points of OpenHIE. The focus was around a set of “challenge groups” that emerged where participants were collaboratively looking at how to address the problems in support of OpenHIE. These groups included “Case Based Surveillance”, GOFFR, ADX on FHIR, OpenHIM (Installation and building mediators) and the “Global Goods on a Box” (which later transitioned to an academy trac).
Teams were encouraged to share experiences, challenge preset ideas, come up with ways to solve problems and very much encouraged to learn. To the last point there was a fantastic introduction session to the basics of FHIR, Docker and other tools that are cross cutting for HIE operations and development.
Aside from the “formal” groups we had many side conversations and projects, including OpenLMIS, some development of prototype mediators for data exchange and other technical conversations where members got to work collaboratively towards an outcome.
Some of the highlights included:
During the transition between the unconference sessions and the connec-a-thon, we reviewed our progress as a community in an open session that allowed us to share lessons learned for future conferences. During these discussions, we committed to regular (yearly) events, each held in the environments we are directly trying to serve. A number of country representatives expressed interest in hosting future events. The comments strongly reinforced the power of coming together for peer learning and consensus building around health information exchange. Some participants expressed pleasant surprise as to how something so seemingly “unorganized” at first glance could be so valuable and educational. The unconference closed with most participants taking working meetings, social time, and meals that lasted long into the late hours of the night.
While OpenHIE has been together virtually as a community for the last 3-5 years, for many of us, this was the first time we’ve ever been able to meet face-to-face as this growing collection of people, organizations, and partnerships. The show of support for this event exceeded all of our expectations. For all of us, it’s mind-blowing as to how much we’ve accomplished given the constraints we all face. OpenHIE, from our eyes, is broadly considered the “go-to” place for work around operationalizing data sharing strategies within constrained environments. This being said OpenHIE will have to continue to quickly transition our community processes from a focus on socializing what we as a community are all about into daily meaningful action for countries trying to practically implement health data sharing architectures. This event was a powerful reinforcement and injection of energy into what we’re trying to accomplish together as a community. All of us are moving forward the many actions we agreed to: establishing new working groups within OpenHIE, engaging the standards development communities in new ways, and making the proceeds of our work more “self service” for countries. Some of us are even planning now for next year’s event! Until then!
These are the paths that will lead us beyond lofty goals and onto practical action.
We know that interoperability is key to improving the effectiveness and resilience of health information systems.
As we’ve said before, it’s crucial to overcoming the fragmented and proprietary global health information systems we have today, and can allow governments and their stakeholders to make the most of their data, including extending, upgrading, and preserving it.
Yet how do we move from that lofty goal to practical action? For us at IntraHealth International, there are three clear pathways to greater health systems interoperability: standards, tools, and advocacy.
Health information systems need clear standards to communicate with each other and with the wider health ecosystem. So we’re developing those standards.
For instance, through the OpenHIE effort, IntraHealth is a core contributor to the Care Services Discovery (CSD) profile, which supports queries across related directories that contain data about organizations, facilities, services, and providers.
We also contribute to the Mobile Case Services Discovery (mCSD) profile. This is based on HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard and supports transactions and actors similar to CSD, including pulling data on organizations, locations, health care services, and practitioners from multiple data sources and responding to queries on those resources.
Standards are important, but without the software tools to make them useful, users won’t adopt them.
So we developed OpenInfoMan, an implementation of the CSD profile to find matching services and query for updated services transactions as part of OpenHIE. OpenInfoMan is the engine behind the CSD-compliant Health Worker Registry.
And now we’re working on an implementation of the mCSD profile to add FHIR support to the Health Worker Registry. This tool is extended from Jembi Health System’s Hearth FHIR server and gives implementers an extended set of operations beyond what is required by mCSD.
We are also developing Global Open Facility Registry (GOFR) tools, in partnership with DATIM and Digital Square, to support ministries of health as they develop and maintain master facility lists and link them with existing public sources of health facility data.
Standards and tools need one last component to help communities adopt them: constant advocacy to engage decision-makers and shift from ideas to reality.
We are tireless advocates of interoperability in the US and around the world. At the Integrating the Health Enterprise (IHE) Connectathon—the health care industry’s largest, most rigorous interoperability testing event—we connected our tools with those of other vendors to ensure that just by following the mCSD profile, any two systems can exchange data, despite being built entirely separately.
And within the Global Digital Health Network (GDHN), we promote interoperability across the international development industry. You can RSVP now to join us at the June GDHN meeting, where we will focus on interoperability across the health systems ecosystem.
Later this summer, we’re looking forward to joining many of our digital health colleagues at the OpenHIE Community Meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, to support country-owned, country-driven, large-scale health information-sharing architectures. We are particularly excited to give policy-makers an opportunity to better understand interoperability and systems thinking.
After all, learning more about the problems they face in sharing and using data drives our investment in standards.
Source:: Intrahealth Blog
On behalf of the entire OpenHIE community, we are excited to announce the inaugural OpenHIE Community Meeting, which will be held July 31 – August 2 at the Mount Meru Hotel and Conference Center in Arusha, Tanzania. A technology-focused Connect-a-Thon will follow the meeting on August 3 – 4.
We intend for these events to directly support countries as they grapple with the many challenges inherent in driving large-scale health information-sharing architectures. We invite government officials, and the implementers and developers seeking to support them, to participate in this can’t miss event. This meeting will be an amazing opportunity for peer mentorship, where strategies and approaches to empower pragmatic, standardized, and sustainable health information sharing are shared. It’s also a great chance to network and share your current and future plans.
Who should attend?
Why you should attend!
This event provides a unique opportunity for implementers to collaborate and improve their knowledge of OpenHIE, share needs, and propose new priorities. Additionally, government leaders will gather and share approaches to plan for and design interoperable solutions. For more details, please visit http://ohie.org/OHIE18
Community Meeting Agenda:
The OpenHIE Community Meeting agenda will feature several tracks, including those specifically for government leaders as well as one for OpenHIE Implementers. Additional tracks for developers will also be included to connect the community meeting with the Connect-a-thon. In additional to these pre-arranged sessions, the agenda will have several open “unconference” sessions where community members will propose presentations on topics relevant to their OpenHIE implementations. Stay tuned for more details on proposing session ideas.
Following the OpenHIE Community Meeting will be a two-day Connect-a-thon, scheduled for August 3 – 4, 2018, at Mount Meru Hotel. The Connect-a-thon will dive into best practices and standards for interoperability of health tools for use in Low and Middle Income Countries, of which HL7 FHIR and OpenHIE are foundational. More information about the Connect-a-thon is available here: http://ohie.org/OHIE18 .
For more information about Registration, Accommodations, Visa Invitation Letters and other logistics, please visit http://ohie.org/OHIE18
Back in March 2016, the OpenHIE community of practice officially endorsed The Principles for Digital Development, an initiative to take lessons learned in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in development projects and put them into practice. As a values-driven community, it was natural to align with this initiative, given how closely our community aligned with the concepts inherent in the Digital Principles.
As we reflect on our community’s activities for 2016, we are pleased to have many examples of how we advocate and encourage this values-based model, working with countries as they plan, and begin to implement large scale health data sharing architectures.
Design with the User: Many countries are currently in the process, or have completed the publication of a national architecture for health data sharing. We are proud that many of these countries ministries, such as Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and the Philippines are being supported by members of our community. In each case, these architectures are being conceptualized against real world health issues, and the priorities of health leadership. For example, in Nigeria’s recent National Health ICT Strategic Framework, the architecture has been conceptualized against the country’s vision of universal health coverage, and the early operational activities have been prioritized against a collection of real world health data sharing challenges. In Tanzania, members of our community participated in a Gates-funded activity called the Better Immunization Data Initiative. This early work around encouraging better immunization compliance through technology and data sharing was an important precursor that supported their national eHealth architecture plan. In all of these circumstances, countries are designing architectures against real, not perceived needs.
Use Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source, and Open Innovation: Throughout the OpenHIE community, we strive to be a potent example of the power of open standards and open content. We are strong ambassadors of open standards, through our partnership with Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), a standards-specification organization which helps to operationalize the use of base syntactic and semantic standards such as HL7, FHIR, ICD, and SNOMED. Many of the country experiences within our community have both validated these standards as viable within resource-constrained environments and encouraged fundamental revisions to them. In some cases, we have even been lead developers of new standards; our work on ADX, and CSD are two prominent examples. We also spend significant energy in developing reference technologies to demonstrate the viability of these standards, and in most cases, these demonstration technologies are made available via liberal open source licenses. But in the spirit of true openness, we also encourage the participation of commercial or proprietary equivalents for these technologies within our larger ecosystem to maximize the potential choices for consumers. Most importantly, we go out of our way to do all of the work of our community out in the open. That has become an obsession for us! New members of our community can learn about most of the previous conversations by reviewing our wiki, our mailing lists (which are archived and available to the public), and through recordings and collaboratively developed minutes to our meetings.
Address Privacy & Security: One of the more challenging aspects of working with countries on data sharing strategies is the need for a highly tailored set of policies and procedures for how to ensure the privacy and security of health data. Each country has unique socio-political dynamics that obligate a deliberate discernment of details around topics such as data ownership, stakeholders, and individual rights. In other words, there is no common boilerplate or approach to addressing privacy and security around health data sharing. This has been a fundamental challenge that has hindered our ability to adequately support countries. In response to this, in 2016, we worked with domain experts within the US and around the world to develop a framework for starting a dialogue with countries, and discerning the aspects of privacy and security that are priority areas of emphasis. “A Global Framework for Health Information Exchange” is a report laying out the framing questions and the concepts which will assist decision-makers in documenting the relevant policies that ensure adequate safeguards for privacy and security. That being said, we are very interested in learning how others have broached these kinds of issues and would benefit greatly from the involvement of others as we work through this challenging topic.
We are proud to be an endorsing organization of the Digital Principles, and look forward to the peer learning opportunities that will come with further active engagement with this initiative in 2017.