We have been talking a lot about health interoperability lately, but what this mean exactly?
Well, have you watch Marcelo Fonseca iUZ.Talk back in July?
Back then, Marcelo explained iUZ point-of-view in the health interoperability field, and has referred important related aspects during his pitch. We have recorded it and you can still view it in our Youtube Channel.
Health Interoperability definition
According with HIMSS – Health Information and Management System Society, health interoperability is:
(…) the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged.
Data exchange schema and standards should permit data to be shared across clinicians, lab, hospital, pharmacy, and patient regardless of the application or application vendor. Health interoperability means the ability of information systems to work together within and across organisational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities.
There are three levels of health information technology interoperability:
- Foundational (allows data exchange from one information technology system to be received by another)
- Structural (an intermediate level that defines the structure or format of data exchange)
- Semantic (provides interoperability at the highest level, which is the ability of two or more systems or elements to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged. Takes advantage of both the structuring of the data exchange and the codification of the data including vocabulary so that the receiving information technology systems can interpret the data)
(Source: HIMSS – Definition of Interoperability)
Cross-Border Interoperability and Challenges in the Interoperability field
At iUZ we have committed a lot of our time to cross-border interoperability in the healthcare field (check our epSOS case study (new) page), as cross-border interoperability “aiming to provide tools and common ways to exchange information between countries” (Source: Slideshare). According with epSOS, cross-border interoperability also means interoperability between neighbouring and non-neighbouring epSOS Member States and their entire territories.
In Marcelo pitch, he spoke about a few challenges in the interoperability field, being:
Legal and organisational interoperability challenges, such as:
- Implementation of legal common grounds for information exchange
- Establishment of circles of trust
- Legal recognition of involved parties, such as HCPs (including their roles), patients and others
- Set in place common authentication mechanisms (e.g. European e-Identification projects)
Semantic interoperability challenges, such as:
- Represent as much as possible the information using clinical code-systems
- Define common and agreed value sets for information exchange (e.g. health sets of terminologies)
- Establish formal mappings of existent information to the agreed value sets
- Include the translations to allow multi-language capabilities (for cross-country scenarios)
Technical interoperability challenges, such as:
- Implement common interfaces for services
- Establish agreed format for information exchange
- Prove and certify the compliance level of the involved systems
- Define roadmaps for information integration
Regarding the benefits for having information systems connected through cross-border health interoperability, are:
- For citizens and patients:
- Receive health care abroad (almost) seamlessly;
- Receive medication in a foreign country on existing prescription;
- Access to his own information in multiple languages and recognised formats;
- For Health care providers:
- Get quick and easy access to key patient data;
- Improve health care cooperation across borders;
- Health care quality:
- Reduce medication errors by exchanging data;
- Facilitate the occasional care of foreign patients
The answers to these issues are in these organisms:
- IHE – Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise
- HL7 – Health Level Seven International
- DICOM – Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine
We’ve already written about IHE, when we joined IHE international as a member organization and when we went to Connectathon 2014 in Vienna (Austria). IHE – Integrating Healthcare Enterprise, is an initiative by healthcare professionals and industry leaders that aims to improve the way computer systems in healthcare share information.
According with IHE, they intend to promote the coordinated use of established standards such as DICOM and HL7 to address specific clinical needs in support of optimal patient care. Systems developed in accordance with IHE communicate with one another better, are easier to implement, and enable care providers to use information more effectively. (Source: IHE)
Health Level Seven International (HL7) is a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited standards developing organization. HL7 provides standards for interoperability that improve care delivery, optimize workflow, reduce ambiguity and enhance knowledge transfer among all stakeholders.
HL7 is dedicated to providing a comprehensive framework and related standards for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information.
Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) “is a standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging.” (Source: Wikipedia)
See our new brand infographic about “What is Health Interoperability?”:
Click in the image to view full-size or see it on Slideshare. Don´t forget to share it.
There are much more to say about health interoperability. Share with us your thoughts, below in the comments.
Opening the Future of Healthcare.
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