In the run up to the fireworks of Bonfire Night, a different sort of conversation on FHIR Works took place at the techUK offices in London. techUK was delighted to host an event on interoperability with INTEROPen, NHS Digital, and guests KLAS. The event brought suppliers and the NHS together for a conversation on the current initiatives and future plans for interoperability. At its heart, the purpose of interoperability is to ensure that citizens and those who are providing care have the information they need, when they need it. It’s about better information sharing between health and social care organisations and joining up information to ensure care can be focused on the individual and their needs.
Session 1: KLAS
In the first session Jeremy Goff from KLAS Research outlined the research being undertaken by KLAS on interoperability in the UK. The aim of the research is to measure interoperability and create a benchmark, as there is “no progress without measurement”. It is hoped that the research will help to make a business case for interoperability and allow the UK to move forward on interoperability by annotating where the market currently is. His slides and a document outlining their work on measuring interoperability in the UK are available for download below.
Session 2 showcased the progress of INTEROPen and was hosted by Paul Cooper, one of the founders of INTEROPen and Vice Chair of techUK’s Health and Social Care Council. Paul was joined by presenters, Dr Simon Eccles, Senior Responsible Officer, Interoperability and Social Care at the Department of Health, Luke Readman, Co-Chair of INTEROPen and CIO of East London Health and Care Partnership, Malcolm Senior, Programme Director – Integration and Social Care at NHS Digital, Andy Kinnear, Director of Digital Transformation at NHS South, Central and West CSU, Indi Singh, Head of Architecture at NHS England, and Keith Naylor, Programme Head – Integration Projects at NHS Digital.
The presenters highlighted why interoperability is so important in digitising health and social care. Technology is a key enabler to support the necessary change required to ensure the NHS is sustainable and interoperability is key to enable care across health and social care, from GPs, to hospitals and into social care. However, interoperability will only be successful through the development and enforcement of standards and standard components across the system.
This session also outlined some of the challenges for interoperability. Part of the challenge is that sharing data can only take place if the data is digitised and currently a lot of health and care data is paper-based. Furthermore, many clinicians still see paper as a more efficient way of working. Other challenges include many legacy systems, lack of standards and standardisation, and the involvement of multiple organisations often with competing priorities, agendas and interests. The full set of slides is available for download below.
Session 3: techUK and the supplier community
The third session was hosted by Ben Moody, Head of Health and Social Care at techUK. Ben was joined by Paul Cooper who encouraged suppliers to sign up to the techUK Interoperability Charter. He also launched (for comments) an addendum to the charter which should make it easier for more suppliers to sign up. Read more about that here. Paul also introduced the INTEROPen Compliance Matrix which allows suppliers to self-assess how interoperable they are and outline their plans for becoming more interoperable.
The day closed with an interactive panel discussion where Paul Cooper, Tate Gilchrist, Sr. Business Developer, Cerner Open Platform, Helen Parslow, Director of Business Development, MedeAnalytics and Malcolm Senior gave their views on these questions:
They concluded that a key role for techUK is to foster transparent conversations around the interoperability journey by bringing together suppliers with NHS stakeholders for frank discussions on how to work through the complexities.