How Did We Become OpenHIE?

By: Brianna Heron
Posted On: April 12, 2022

How did OpenHIE come to be what it is today?

Before evolving into the OpenHIE community of practice in 2013, OpenHIE originally began with the work in 2009 that established the Rwandan Health Information Exchange (RHIE). The health information exchange (HIE) consortium acknowledged that if one country was grappling with the problems of disparate health information systems, such as gaps in patient’s information or in communication across multiple platforms, then other countries must be experiencing their own challenges in eHealth strategizing as well. There was agreement in the HIE field that lessons learned should be shared and challenges should be discussed to help each other move forward.

What does OpenHIE do today?

Interest gathered over time from more countries looking to apply best practices within their environments. With all of this interest, something more than just solving singular problems was needed. Problems needed to be solved at an architectural level to ensure that information could be maintained in a non-manual way and that interoperability ran between systems that needed it. 

These implementations can be thought of as a shared, learning experience. From these projects we can produce best practice recommendations, tried-and-tested solutions, and eventually an architectural system for guidance. Because of this need for an approach that is completely customizable and has a foundational knowledge from many personal experiences, an opportunity arose to form a community of practice to work towards achieving HIEs to meet each country’s unique needs.

Today, OpenHIE still strives to improve the global health outcomes. Health information exchange is crucial in maintaining the health outcomes in resource-constrained environments. In order to shorten the gap of disparate health information systems, OpenHIE’s approaches, reference technologies, and community processes are being utilized in numerous countries across the world. Tanzania and Zambia, Ethiopia, and Haiti are just a few examples where OpenHIE’s architecture has solved their specific needs whether that’s building a facility registry or achieving healthcare sustainability. Furthermore, OpenHIE’s community process assists with health information architecture implementations, regardless of size, to help community members to develop the skills and have access to resources necessary to manage their own health system. 

OpenHIE’s Mission and Vision 

OpenHIE’s mission is to improve health outcomes for resource emerging communities, with the goal of becoming a global resource for health information exchange. OpenHIE believes that every country should have a high-performing, communicative health care system that allows for an easy exchange of information and resources. Recently, the WHO Digital Implementation Investment Guide was published in order to provide guidance for countries who are trying to implement a plan for their digital health. Not only does this guide provide information on OpenHIE’s architectural framework, but it also highlights the hard work from implementers, organizations, and individuals who all share our core mission of improving global health. If you’d like to learn more, check out the Who DIIG document.

In addition to this document, the community has created many resources over the years for collaborating in the name of improving health information exchange: The Getting Started Guide, the Architecture Specification, the Academy, and the Community Forum. We hope these resources are useful in your eHealth systems work and getting connected to the community!