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Today, citizens and patients moving across Europe have very limited access and control of their own health data. While digitisation in member states is rapidly progressing, patient health data – also in digital form – is spread over various health providers and locked in different silos.
There are various legal and technological constraints to data exchange, but also semantic barriers, such as the different languages and terminologies adopted by countries. As a consequence, citizens cannot easily make sure that their complete health data is available to a range of physicians (as would be needed for safe and efficient treatment in different countries), and cannot access by themselves their full clinical history.
InteropEHRate aims to support people’s health by opening up to them new ways to make health data available when and where needed. To make this possible, key health data is managed in “patients’ hands”, i.e., through Smart EHRs (S-EHR) on mobile devices. Data is always transferred via highly secure channels including direct device to device (D2D) communication. Patients are in full control of their data and its pathways.
InteropEHRate will develop open interchange protocols supporting patient-centred exchange of health records between patients, healthcare actors and researchers. Thus, the project is contributing to the next steps that follow on from the February 2019 EC recommendation and help to pave the way towards an open European EHR exchange format and process. The project will add a decentralised, patient-driven bottom-up approach as an alternative method to the top-down approach of exclusive patient data exchange via a country’s national contact point for eHealth (NCPeH).
The key result is an interchange method comprising multiple components for establishing interoperable routes to communicate health data between different actors including patients and researchers. The method will consist of a specification and a reference implementation: the Interoperate format specification – which responds to the February 2019 EC recommendation towards an open European EHR exchange format – aims to become a HL7 FHIR specification in support of syntax and semantic requirements.
Moreover, the project will deliver a reference implementation that demonstrates the communication processes between the patient app, health care providers, and research institutions.
First of all, EHTEL has developed the dissemination strategy of the project and is overseeing and coordinating – in collaboration with the project coordination and the project partners – its implementation, rollout and further refinement.
EHTEL has a longstanding track record of engaging in meaningful services enabled by standards and interoperability in the domain of digital health. To do this, EHTEL has been – formally and informally – fostering the stakeholder dialogue with other groups. It has also been enabling the dialogue of European policymakers, projects and initiatives with fellow stakeholder organisations in the fields, e.g., in the Joint Action JAseHN and via the EC-managed European eHealth Stakeholder Group.
Perspective and next steps
InteropEHRate is funded by the European Union for 42 months. It is implemented by a unique consortium of experienced institutions and qualified experts. InteropEHRate partners represent healthcare solution providers, hospitals, universities and research centres as well as European and local stakeholder associations.
In the long run, the InteropEHRate specifications will be introduced into the international standardisation process.
EHTEL welcomes staying in touch with all stakeholders sharing an interest in interoperability (particularly in the field of electronic health records/electronic personal records) and establishing national and regional solutions that offer meaningful support to cross-border healthcare services. EHTEL works on this subject in close contact with the relevant EC bodies and initiatives. EHTEL members are encouraged to get involved in policy formation in this field.
On 28 September 2022 InteropEHRate held its final conference in Liège, Belgium and in streaming online. You can watch the videos below and read a summary of the conference here.
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