Interoperability in health information systems (HIS) gives authorized healthcare providers complete and accurate information, enabling better diagnosis and treatment decisions, according to not-for-profit Canada Health Infoway.

To facilitate interoperability, the Infoway Reference Implementation Suite, launched late last week, demonstrates how standards for health information exchange work. The Infoway Suite links client registry systems to clinical systems within and across jurisdictions, according to the organization.

Developing standards and common architecture is key to overcoming challenges related to interoperability amongst HIS, according to Infoway chief technology officer, Dennis Giokas.

“Changing the working habits of health care providers can be challenging,” Giokas said. “To support adoption, it’s important to implement change-management strategies that involve users of the system early in the process, and include clear explanation of benefits, workflow redesign, training and communications.”

To make the system available to the broadest possible audience, Infoway has is offering it free of charge under an Open Source license.

“Standards-based Open Source solutions can bring value as components within electronic health record (EHR) systems,” said Giokas. “They can be useful tools in accelerating EHR systems development, as is the case with the Infoway Suite, providing developers with source code to integrate into their solutions.”

Giokas said cost can be an issue with any HIS but by co-investing with provinces and territories, Infoway helps make it more affordable for them to procure such systems.

“Where appropriate, Infoway develops standards, guidelines and deployment strategies on a pan-Canadian basis that are beneficial to jurisdictions across Canada,” Giokas said. “By sharing knowledge and lessons learned from previous projects, Infoway helps jurisdictions mitigate risk and lower costs of their EHR projects.”

This is Infoway’s first contribution to the Open Source community.

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