Tag: interoperability

2016ihe.png-largeOn 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:

  • aggregate reporting from a health management information system
  • aggregate reporting from individual case reports
  • the ability to store discrete data in shared health record and produce an on-demand clinical document
  • alert messaging
  • patient registration
  • patient demographic queries

For more information on IHE testing and conformance statements for previous connectathon testing, visit the OpenHIE Integration Statements page on our wiki.  

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!