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BCS issues interoperability guideline for health and care providers

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, has yesterday launched an Interoperability Guideline for health and care providers. The guideline, produced by BCS Health, a community of health informatics experts, aims to provide guidance to groups of health and care providers on how to set about sharing patient records so that the appropriate information is available to clinicians at the point of care delivery.

Justin Whatling, Chair of BCS Health, explains: “As we move towards new models of integrated care it is vital that we have interoperability between systems. We need systems to be able to talk to each other and deliver a complete record to patients and their clinicians to make safe and appropriate care decisions. In England, recent stimulus funds have encouraged many more health and care organisations to embrace interoperability solutions but as they do there is a real opportunity to learn from the experience of others, and not feel the need to invent from first principles. The guideline is a practical, high-level tool that shares tips on approach and best practice learning from others to speed up and reduce risk of implementation.”

The guideline was put together based on gathering inputs from a broad range of stakeholders across the NHS in England, helping the guideline to address specific, practical challenges that health and care providers face when they implement interoperability. These inputs were organised into a series of concise key considerations addressing different facets of interoperability, ranging from business requirements, governance, execution and agreements through to outcomes. 

According to Paul Mukherjee, BCS Lead for the Guideline, “We feel that this guideline will assist health and care providers in understanding how to go about sharing information to improve the quality of care delivery. Following reviews, care providers commented that they wish they had this guideline as they embarked on their projects, and one is able to use it as a checklist of where things might be going wrong for an early project.”

Justin concludes: “An important aspect of professionalism is the sharing of best practice across our communities, so that individuals and organisations can develop skills and learn from others. We hope that this basic interoperability guideline will help give early pointers to interoperability projects and seek more detailed understanding from professional bodies and networks.”

Dr Paul Rice, Head of Technology Strategy, Strategic Systems and Technology, Patients and Information, NHS England adds: “I am excited to see the launch of this guideline which I am confident will be a useful source of practical advice for NHS organisations seeking to share information. This guideline aligns with NHS England’s strategy for promoting interoperability between care organisations and is consistent with the ambitions of the National Information Board document - Personalised Health and Care 2020 - so I welcome the contribution it makes.”

The Interoperability Guideline is available for download from:www.bcs.org/interoperability

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