30 June 2008
A report called The Impact of eHealth on the Quality & Safety of Healthcare was recently released by the Imperial College, London.
This report describes the adoption of HL7 by CFH as “undoubtedly welcome” as one part of the delivering safely and effectively the benefits of eHealth . The use of common standards such as HL7 and Continua is highlighted as part of how NPfIT has begun to greatly increase the potential for interoperability .
The risks of conflicting standards approaches evolving in Europe is alluded to, and CEN, ISO and HL7 are working to evolve a common framework allowing openEHR archetype-based solutions to interoperate with other electronic health records and information systems. There is massive value to be established by providing a coherent standards framework, and this is something that is being demanded by the stakeholders throughout Europe and beyond.
“Although NHS CFH’s insistence that new eHealth applications must be Health Level Seven compliant—this referring to a voluntary but nonetheless widely used standard for interoperability—thereby assuring a degree of ability to exchange information between systems, is undoubtedly welcome, none of the headline NPfIT applications will however achieve the optimum levels of HIE, with the result that patient safety may needlessly be compromised.” (p114)
“The National Programme for Information Technology has already begun greatly to increase the potential for health information exchange and interoperability, for example, through the new National Network for the NHS, the central Spine, encouragement of common operational standards such as Health Level Seven and co-operating with the Continua Health Alliance” (p113)
 “The adoption of Health Level Seven (HL7)—which is a volunteer organisation that ‘. . .provides a framework (and standards) for the exchange, integration, sharing and retrieval of electronic health information through defining standards, guidelines and methodologies’ - by NHS CFH is also an important development. The HL7 version 3 messages and clinical document architecture are used by the NHS to facilitate the transfer of information. Importantly, this standard is being adopted internationally, in Australia by the National EHealth Transition Authority for example. However, alternative systems such as OpenEHR also have strong support and are gaining ground in many European countries.” (p127)
The full report is available to view at http://www1.imperial.ac.uk/resources/4565EF18-662B-448B-90C2-E7372B4C2E09/
Last modified 30/06/08