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Call for Action: Interoperability Implementation at Scale (INTEROPen)

Setting the pace - Interoperability Implementation at scale (INTEROPen)

Dear Supplier,

This letter is to invite you to join an emerging working group of suppliers, dedicated to accelerating the formation and validation of standardised approaches to interoperability in the health and social care system.

As you will know, over the last few years there have been a number of publications that have highlighted the urgent need to make care systems interoperable in order to improve the health of this nation. Publications include the techUK Interoperability Charter, the CCIO Newcastle declaration, the National Information Board 2020 strategy and numerous King’s fund reports.

At the end of last year, a community was formed called the ‘Code4Health Interoperability Community’ consisting of many stakeholders and groups; two techUK supplier representatives sit on the board of this community, Paul Cooper and Dr Amir Mehrkar. The community encourages interoperability delivery via a series of ‘action groups’ which may be formed by community members. This new group of suppliers is an action group that has the support of the Code4Health board members, NHS England and NHS Digital (HSCIC).

Suppliers are in a very good position to inform the design of the necessary interoperability technical standards, and are in a position to validate that they are implementable and fit for purpose. We will all remember that in days gone by interoperability standards have often been invented without reference to practical implementation and have been “landed” on suppliers. The results have generally been very poor. Successful implementations have involved suppliers from the start of the standards process. Thus, there is strong evidence for the involvement of suppliers in this process from the beginning.

This supplier group’s activity will primarily be focused on:

1. Data exchanges between the different care domain systems e.g. GP, acute, community, mental health, child heath, maternity, social care. This data exchange will favour structured data whenever possible, with development proposals where it is lacking.

2. The establishment and validation, both clinical and technical, of FHIR based profiles for the exchange of granular transactional data between systems. These standards will operate alongside other standards such as CDA, which is targeted at document exchange. We will work in partnership with the Professional Records Standards Body (PRSB) to establish FHIR profiles and CDA standards that are ‘clinically’ fit for purpose.

3. The definition of APIs with associated trigger events to carry the data, particularly real time requests and posts.

4. Informing the requirements for the technical governance rules, security mechanisms, and regional architectures that will be necessary to safely exchange data in an acceptable manner. 

The overall objective of the group is to actively demonstrate the flow of data between domains, and between separate supplier IT systems using the standards, for example via Connectathons and live demonstrations. To be clear, this is not a paper exercise or a talking shop to debate commercial interests. Outputs will be incorporated into the Code4Health interoperability community’s executive arm alongside collaboration with PRSB.

All activities will be open and transparent and operate in collaboration and in coordination with other interoperability initiatives from the Code4health community, NHS England and NHS Digital where the transparency is reciprocated.

Members of the supplier group are self-selected but must be willing to dedicate their own time and intellectual energy to the work. Commercial self-interests must be put aside and seen to be so. There is no direct funding for suppliers’ time and facilitating meeting spaces may be required. Contributions should include both senior technical and clinical informatics individuals. Whilst contributions are by individuals, agreements reached should be on behalf of your company at a level sufficient to establish confidence in the likelihood of implementation.

It should be noted that this is not a techUK commissioned group and is open to all health and social care IT suppliers with expertise in these areas.

This is a call to action! We hope you are willing to join the group at this exciting time. We all realise that achieving this group’s objectives at pace and with a high quality will drive the delivery of new models of care so necessary to achieving the transformation needed in our care system and outlined in the Five Year Forward View: driving disease prevention strategies, breaking down organisation barriers and allowing patients and carers to become active participants in their care journey. This will save lives, reduce illness, and promote a future of wellness for all.

Care delivery is truly becoming a 21st Century information science and interoperability between our IT systems is crucial to realising this potential.

Please register your interest by emailing suppliergroup@interopen.org 


Setting the pace letter (attached below) has been signed by;

  • Code4Health Interoperability Board techUK representatives - Paul Cooper and Dr Amir Mehrkar
  • Chair, David Stables, Endeavour Charity

Founding members of the supplier group include; Blackpear, Cerner, Endeavour Health, Emis Health, IMS Maxims, Intersystems, Orion Health and TPP.

Setting the pace (pdf)

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