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Health and care IT industry join forces to create action group to champion interoperability

29 health and social care IT suppliers launch an action group to accelerate the development of open standards in the sector

A number of IT suppliers in the health and social care sector have created a group to support the delivery of the Code4Health interoperability community and drive open standards developments.

The Code4Health interoperability community was launched by NHS England in November 2015 with the aim of providing a space for suppliers to collaborate on technical interoperability standards.

Code4health has become the home of several open-source projects and communities have often been created around local initiatives or specific topics and interests.

The industry group, named INTEROPen, wants to accelerate the development of interoperability in health and social care.

It will focus on four key areas, including the development of data exchanges between different care settings and data validation.

It will also focus on creating “a definition for APIs [application programming interfaces] that support automated notifications about patient care sent between service providers”, and the requirements for technical governance rules, “security mechanisms for the handling of data and architecture”.

All standards will also comply with techUK’s interoperability charter. Paul Cooper, vice-chair of techUK’s health and social care council, said that in the past interoperability standards have sometimes been developed in isolation without involving suppliers.

“This has often resulted in poor take-up and ineffectual standards. The INTEROPen action group has been set up specifically to address the issue. We have created an environment where standards will be developed by those that know what the market really needs – the suppliers,” said Cooper.

“Only this approach will ensure interoperability can support the delivery of the new models of care that are so necessary to achieve the transformation needed in the NHS.”

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The creation of the group is supported by NHS England and the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Indi Singh, head of enterprise architecture at NHS England, said the group sends a signal to health and care organisations that suppliers are serious about opening up their systems.

“It also reflects the move to active collaboration between localities, suppliers and national organisations through the interoperability community and bringing together our collective influence in co-developing standards and approaches needed to meet priority needs,” he added. 

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