Post author: Samuel Mbuthia, Head of Community
Interoperable systems work together, even if they were not designed specifically to do so, because standard communication protocol techniques – such as Fast Health Interoperability Resources (FHIR) – are applied. All patient information can be seen, exchanged, and used across different platforms. To impact global health outcomes, data needs to be shared and interpreted across clinics, countries, and continents. Integration of applications may enable different systems to communicate with each other, but it is not sustainable due to the custom coding required to connect two or more non-interoperable systems. Interoperability enables multiple systems to communicate with each other while ensuring sustainability.
OpenHIE is a community of people building an open framework to support implementation teams as they develop health information exchanges (HIEs) in their regions. OpenHIE’s standards and best practice recommendations work together to form a foundation for comprehensive health information exchange systems.
Interoperable solutions to address health inequity
With the right implementation of global standards, and a focus on interoperability, technologies have great potential to address health inequity for the people and places where it is needed most. The Community Health Toolkit (CHT) Core Framework – of which Medic is the technical steward – can be configured to support multiple healthcare related protocols and standards used to achieve interoperability, thus strengthening the digital health ecosystem. This has been demonstrated through successful integration of CHT applications with DHIS2 and OpenMRS, allowing us to send patient and event data to DHIS2, aggregate data across multiple health workers into DHIS2 data values, and receive data from DHIS2.
A longstanding partnership with new momentum
Since 2014, Medic has served and will continue to serve as OpenHIE ambassadors through the digital health ecosystem while also encouraging a broader representation from Medic’s partners and the CHT community in OpenHIE processes. Over the last few years, Medic has actively participated in community calls and attended OpenHIE conferences. Several teammates at Medic have successfully completed OpenHIE academy courses, and applied that knowledge to enhancing the CHT Core Framework and CHT deployments. In 2019, we attended the OpenHIE conference held in Addis Ababa and led a CHT product showcase session demonstrating the CHT’s alignment with OpenHIE architecture. We also led a team at the conference’s hackconnect-a-thon, successfully connecting the CHT with other components in the OpenHIE ecosystem.
Over the past year, Medic participated in a collaborative grant with the Dimagi, Ona, the Community Health Impact Coalition (CHIC), and other partners, which formed a technical working group to review the current state of community health information systems (CHIS) interoperability. The group also works on building an interoperability workflow prototype. This led to the selection of Instant OpenHIE as the basis of the working group’s prototype. By leveraging Instant OpenHIE’s off the shelf readiness, coupled with the use of HAPI FHIR as an industry standard back end, Medic was able to be a nimble and active participant in the consortium and contribute to an example CHIS interoperability use case. While still at a nascent state, the technical outputs of this working group can be found on GitHub, and the prototypical Lost to Follow-Up use case documentation was published on the OpenHIE wiki.
Medic understands the need for openness and interoperability which aligns well with OpenHIE’s mission. We would like to serve as an exemplar of OpenHIE’s mission, vision, and values through the adoption of its standards and workflows outlined in their Architecture Specification while also sharing learnings within the CHT community. Medic will leverage on its networks and partnerships to share or encourage sharing of country implementation activities, and continue to provide available time and resources to assist OpenHIE leadership in prioritizing activities within the larger OpenHIE community roadmap. We are continuously exploring new ways of collaborating across other teams and work streams at Medic, including service design, app development, and our growing body of research.
We are excited to be an OpenHIE partner organization and look forward to a fruitful collaboration with the OpenHIE community.