HL7 delivers healthcare interoperability standards

DH Review of the Future of NPfIT

27 September 2010

The DH review announcement follows the direction signposted in previous policy papers on liberating the NHS - Trusts and GP consortia will be allowed to make their own choices of healthcare systems. However, with this approach come new challenges and responsibility, particularly in achieving the levels of interoperability that the NHS now needs, more than ever, to deliver improved care on reducing budgets. Freedom to choose may include freedom to choose tactical solutions which cannot interoperate.

HL7 UK is ready to support providers and suppliers, to ensure that interoperability is not the first casualty in the new regime. Current levels of interoperability need to be maintained and continually improved, building on the developments of recent years. The DH review confirms the status of both Choose and Book and the Electronic Prescription Service as mature national services. By doing so, it also confirms the ongoing strategic role of HL7 v3 as the standard on which all communication with these services is based today. Both these national services rely critically on shared spine infrastructure services such as the national Patient Demographics Service (PDS) and Spine Directory Service (SDS) for staff and location reference information. These use HL7 v3 messaging for all inbound and outbound information exchange.

There is also a mention in the review for PACS as a mature national service. PACS implementations typically rely extensively on IHE-developed profiles of HL7 v2 for data exchange and workflow.

The review puts a strong emphasis on local implementations and services. The DH Interoperability Toolkit (ITK) is likely to play a growing role in helping local and national systems deliver seamless integration. HL7 UK has already worked closely with the DH to enhance its profile of HL7 v2 to support the ITK requirements and is planning an increasing role in ITK roll-out and usage.

To achieve a high level of interoperability, the staff responsible for system procurements need to understand the interoperability landscape. HL7 UK works consistently in this area, not only through its Technical Committee but also through its training programme (next sessions in October: click here for link) and with roadshows currently being planned for early 2011.

HL7 UK is also actively taking a longer term view with our University Outreach programme that is helping to educate healthcare informatics students, many of whom will comprise tomorrow's local implementation staff (click here for link

Last modified 27/09/10