Category: OpenHIE

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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.

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A common question we get is: “What is the OpenHIE initiative about?”  The short answer would be that OpenHIE is about helping resource-constrained environments leverage their electronic health information by standardizing it.  But it’s more involved than that… Free-for-commercial-use-crop

We’re about problem solving

  • Different environments have real and specific needs when it comes to supporting efficient health provision.  Talking through these needs with experts in country allows our community to aid in providing suitable solutions to satisfy the needs.   We’re less about theoretical interoperability, and more concerned with applied interoperability in real health care settings.

We’re about country ownership

  • It is vital that a country not only provide guidance on the design of their interoperability infrastructure but also manages the support of the exchange locally. Those on the ground who see and understand the demands of their healthcare system are the ones who can truly navigate towards real value.  Therefore, our process is about a deeper (and perhaps more deliberate) engagement with individuals who live within countries from the onset, and empowering those communities to champion the cause.

We’re about community

  • Because we’re so engaged with building local capacity and knowhow around large scale interoperability, we find that community-based models of engagement are the most effective way to work.  Our community model develops a virtual online and real-time process for members to network and collaborate on a global scale so we can all work more effectively with the best and the brightest.

We’re about technical excellence

  • Supporting resource-constrained environments doesn’t somehow mean that sacrifices need to be made in quality.  We constantly strive to find the right balance between locally sustained, easily maintained and richly functional technical approaches.  Bringing experts together to share their knowledge enhances the design of high quality adaptable processes and technologies for the most challenging environments.

We’re about standards

  • Serving as active partners with those who create, maintain, and refine open health information standards specifications allows us to design architectures for healthcare data sharing on a global scale.  This also supports plug-and-play interoperability with many kinds of newly evolving technologies over time.

So what’s our approach? OpenHIE is a community of communities.  We have organized various projects involved in standardizing health information into a common, scalable approach that has immediate pragmatic value for a whole host of real world health use cases.  We’ve underpinned this technical approach with a series of experienced implementers of large scale interoperability projects, so that as countries come to our community with expressed needs, we can personalize an engagement strategy that simultaneously meets their immediate needs and further refines the technology and standards support for subsequent members of the community.

Want to learn more?  Do you think we can support your country or project? Fill out our get involved page, we welcome you to to join our community!