Health data is captured today at a variable quality, is not collected or stored consistently in the EHR systems of different vendors, and standards adoption is far from ideal. There are many organisations, initiatives and research projects tackling different aspects of this challenge. However, research results have not proved easy to sustain, and are therefore frequently reinvented by successor projects rather than enriched. Initiatives are often driven by individual stakeholder groups in isolation, such as health informatics standards bodies developing isolated standards, health professional bodies developing guidelines in a narrative form without specifying how conforming health records should be structured, performance targets being set for healthcare providers that require the specific collection of reporting data that is not related to the data that needs to be collected to support patient care.
Semantic interoperability, which is about ensuring that the meaning of clinical data can be correctly interpreted when it is shared between electronic health record systems or between different applications, is a priority area for i~HD. Its members are already working with many European projects and key stakeholders to define the top priorities and the good practices for developing and implementing semantic interoperability standards, for example to enable safe and efficient continuity of care between professionals looking after a patient with a long-term condition, who may be employed in different organisations and working on different sites. i~HD will promote the importance of interoperability. It will help to bring together the patients and clinicians who create and use most health information with other critical stakeholders such as the health ICT industry, standards developers, clinical research communities and healthcare funders, to co-create the most relevant future standards and champion their adoption. It will publish a register of good quality interoperability assets.
i~HD is keen to promote the engagement and empowerment of patients in health decision-making and in illness self management, and for all citizens to have access to information about their health status in order to make informed choices that promote wellness and prevent disease. Semantic interoperability is critical to enabling well informed decision making.