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 email@example.com, or contact our Community Manager Jamie Thomas directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
OpenHIE is very proud to be a contributor to the 2017 HIMSS Book of the Year: “Health Information Exchange: Navigating and Managing a Network of Health Information Systems” published by Elsevier. We all felt it was important to contribute to this book due to our focus on implementation and interoperability. This book provides a great way for key members of our community to share our implementation guides and place them within the overall conceptual framework of HIE. We were also looking forward to having a physical book available, so this information can be more readily accessible by all.
This book is a significant accomplishment and a huge thank you goes to Brian E. Dixon, PhD from Regenstrief Institute for providing OpenHIE the opportunity to share our knowledge when it comes to addressing the myriad challenges of data exchange.
If you would like to learn more about implementing an HIE, please reach out to the OpenHIE Implementers Network. Anyone can view content posted by this group and anyone can join in the conversation by subscribing here.
You can get your copy of the “Health Information Exchange: Navigating and Managing a Network of Health Information Systems” book here.
The OpenHIE Meet-Up on Wednesday, December 14 at the Global Digital Health Forum had two simple goals:
One, to gather those working in different components and areas of OpenHIE’s architecture – or at least those working in health information systems – to explain some of the technical challenges they are facing.
Secondly, to find areas of collaboration with other participants to help solve these challenges.
We knew no challenges would be solved at the short breakfast meeting. But simply connecting the more than 20 participants from a variety of implementing groups provided an opportunity to strengthen the community built around OpenHIE.
IntraHealth International organized the meeting as an un-conference, which put the responsibility on the attendees to provide topics and lead discussions in a collaborative and open fashion. A number of people proposed discussion topics, and in the end, four participants initiated separate discussions:
Paul Biondich of Regenstrief Institute opened the meeting with a short welcome. Afterwards, attendees were invited to join the table of their choosing. In un-conference fashion, attendees were reminded they could participate as much as they liked, but the higher amount of participation would increase the quality of discussions.
Intro to OpenHIE: A wide ranging discussion, filled with OpenHIE novices and experts, covered the main components of OpenHIE and the fundamentals of its community. Members from teams working in two South American countries were in attendance, signaling interest in a region without much OpenHIE activity.
Expanding knowledge of OpenHIE in Sub-Saharan Africa: Anecdotal evidence shows that many eHealth practitioners working in Africa lack comfortability of talking about OpenHIE with their peers. The table discussed a few methods to increase knowledge and confidence, including study tours (where informatics professionals in one country travel to another country to discuss OpenHIE planning, performance and lessons learned) and creating a regional task force to increase training and dialog around OpenHIE. Increasing the amount of OpenHIE toolkit documentation was also discussed. A push to speak about OpenHIE use cases at the upcoming HELINA conference on April 23 to 26, 2017 in Burundi.
AeHIN history, processes used, next steps: Alvin Marcelo provided an overview of AeHIN and some lessons learned as the network has expanded. He overviewed the process AeHIN uses for assisting governments in South and Southeast Asia in the development of their health information systems and described both what is needed to continue to provide this support and AeHIN’s vision for the future.
OpenHIE Registries and Supply Chain Management: The conversation centered on aligning registries used by the health system and health care delivery with those used by supply chain practitioners. The link between young children and vaccine transactions is one example: Once a baby is born, she will appear in a health care delivery registry (like DHIS2) and a vaccine registry. Could the young child’s clinic record be leveraged for supply chain databases? Discussions also took place about attempting to align locations (of health centers) within a facility database with those used by supply chain registries.
After nearly one hour of conversation, each table reported out their findings and next steps. Business cards and contact information were exchanged along with promises to keep in touch and move the discussion to the next level. The participants then went off to join the final day of the Global Digital Health Forum.
Post by: John Liebhardt
On January 25-29 over 1000 health IT professionals gathered in Cleveland, Ohio to participate in the health information technology (HIT) industry’s largest collaboration, testing and education event the IHE North America Connectathon. This week long event provides developers a forum to advance interoperability for health information systems.
Why does interoperability matter when it comes to the sharing of health information? Interoperability enables interactions between disparate information systems without having to directly connect them through a hard-coded interfaces. This decoupled approach reduces dependencies and provides the ability to more easily exchange data with other healthcare systems. To provide interoperability, both semantic and syntactic interoperability need to be addressed. As we have seen in other industries, standards can be used to help address interoperability.
IHE standards address syntactic interoperability and provide some support for semantic interoperability. The focus of IHE testing is to ensure message standards are complete and that applications that implement the standards can interoperate. OpenHIE participation in connectathon allows testers and independent monitors to verify that the disparate OpenHIE reference systems can exchange information with other systems via the defined protocols.
OpenHIE community members came from around the globe to participate in this year’s North American Connectathon event to test standards that support OpenHIE workflows. OpenHIE focused on testing protocols related to:
For more information on IHE testing and conformance statements for previous connectathon testing, visit the OpenHIE Integration Statements page on our wiki.
During this weeks MedInfo conference members of the OpenHIE community will be presenting a workshop on “Promoting Effective Health Information Exchange in Developing Environments: An Overview, Tips, and Tactics for Engaging with the OpenHIE Community”. MedInfo is the premier international health and biomedical informatics event. This years theme “eHealth-enabled Health”, will bring world leaders in this field together in São Paulo, Brazil to share knowledge and analyze how eHealth and biomedical informatics are contributing to address some of the most challenging problems in health care, public health, consumer health and biomedical research.
Workshops at MedInfo are informative or interactive sessions that address a specific theme or topic in biomedical and health informatics. During the OpenHIE workshop, we will share three key elements of OpenHIE, including: the OpenHIE technical framework, the OpenHIE community process, and examples of implementations that leverage the OpenHIE initiative. We will further enable workshop participants to explore those elements through small group dialogue facilitated by OpenHIE community members. During the closing session participants will be brought together to help synthesize discussions and provide feedback to the OpenHIE community.
To learn more about OpenHIE’s workshop download our submission paper here.
We are pleased to announce the release of OpenHIE version 1.0 today, 05/15/15!
OpenHIE 1.0 includes exemplar open-source software that supports a collection of tested health information exchange (HIE) integration workflows that support common health care patterns. OpenHIE workflows specify interactions between Point-of-Service (PoS) applications and the HIE, as well as interactions between components that make up OpenHIE’s software architecture. OpenHIE 1.0 is not just software – it also includes a variety of informational artifacts and documentation. For details on how you can download, install and upgrade from your previous installations, please see our Release Notes Page.
Shaun (OpenHIE Chief Architect)