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Software giants back interoperability for healthcare


Mark Say Managing Editor

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A group of the world’s leading software companies have issued a joint statement supporting the cause of interoperability of IT systems in healthcare.

Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce have signed the declaration along with cloud service provider Amazon.

It says they are committed to removing barriers to interoperability, particularly for technologies working through the cloud and AI, and that they share four “foundational assumptions”.

One is that the frictionless exchange of healthcare data, with appropriate permissions and controls, will lead to better patient care and reduced costs.

The second is that interoperability has to account for the needs of all the stakeholders in the healthcare system. The statement notably includes app developers, suggesting that that the companies acknowledge the need for their software to include an easy implementation of APIs to make data more easily available.

Third is the need for open standards, open specifications and open source tools. This requires a variety of technical strategies and ongoing collaboration, and should make use of emerging standards in the field including the HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources Specification.

Fourth is a commitment to work with open source and open standards communities.

Robust dialogue

“Together, we believe that a robust industry dialogue about healthcare interoperability needs will advance this cause, and hence are pleased to issue this joint statement,” it concludes.

While the statement was made public in the US, the commitment has a worldwide relevance for the companies’ approaches to the healthcare market.

In the UK the drive towards interoperability of digital systems is one of the priorities of the health service, with NHS England having outlined its efforts to ensure that systems can exchange patient information effectively. Its measures include the development of standards to support the move from paper to electronic transfers of care, and for enabling access to patient information through open interfaces.

With organisations in health and social care using the companies’ software for administrative processes, the declaration indicates an acknowledgement of the need for a more open approach in the design and implementation of systems to care services.

Image by Free-Photos (Pixabay), CC0 via Wikimedia Commons

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