Removing barriers

UK experts call for open healthcare IT platform


The UK government should encourage its healthcare organisations to use open standards, open programming interfaces and open source components, healthcare IT experts say, in a report published on 31 October. They estimate that health and care systems implementing an open innovation platform could save more than 11% of Britain’s total national healthcare costs.

Across the UK, healthcare organisations are already implementing open platforms, the experts say. Their report calls on the government to catalyse this grassroots movement, by starting a working group “to progress this mission” and align healthcare organisations and suppliers.

The report (PDF) outlines how to achieve an open approach to healthcare IT, and how to resolve the main technical, cultural, and regulatory barriers to innovation. The experts propose a reference architecture based on a set of open standards related to healthcare.

To prove the feasibility of their proposal, the experts point to successful, large-scale implementations of open healthcare systems such as the OpenEHR electronic health records system. OpenEHR, the experts say, “has already been adopted as the national standard for the representation of clinical content in Norway, India, Slovenia and Brazil and is used for standards development in Australia, Finland, Sweden, Russia, Philippines and Canada.”

The study is published by Apperta. This is a community interest company created by the national health service. Through Apperta, the NHS provides support for the Code4Health project, which builds and tests open healthcare applications. One of the founders of Apperta is opthamologist Bill Aylward, creator of the OpenEyes, an electronic medical records system for eye care, that is available as open source.

More information:

Apperta foundation
Open Platform study (PDF)
OSOR news item

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