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How to Explain Data Standards and Interoperability in Digital Health

By Tech Change on October 7, 2021

Phases like data interoperability, open standards, and health information exchange are often used in digital health, but like many hype cycle buzzwords, there are influential people who don’t know what the ideas really mean or why they matter.

This Standards and Interoperability video series is the first one to really break down misconceptions around how digital health applications can automatically exchange data in a cost-effective way. It also makes the case for interoperability and the value of that investment in the long-run.

We built this instructional animation for our Digital Health: Planning National Systems online course for ministry of health officials around the world. Interoperability, standards, and health information exchanges are crucial for public health managers to have a view of the entire national health system and be able to plan for and mitigate public health challenges accordingly.

It took us 18 months (!!) in partnership with USAID and PATH/Digital Square to figure out how to explain this incredibly complex topic in under 15 minutes. Huge credit here to Merrick Schaefer, Ariel Frankel, Yohan Perera, Liang Cai and many others for the incredible amount of work that went into this.

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TechChange provides online professional development in technology and social change for implementers in public health, emergency response, and monitoring and evaluation. TechChange connects them with relevant content, experts, and certification using their facilitated learning platform.
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2 Comments to “How to Explain Data Standards and Interoperability in Digital Health”

  1. Hello,

    First of all, I would like to say that you did a great job. It helps to understand well the topic, and the importance of interoperability, in this case, in digital health. Congratulations!!

    I just wanted to share here a concern on the definition that you are using here. Let me explain it.

    Today, a broad sector -also in the academia- is currently talking on the “ability of organizations”, but not systems nor applications anymore (or not as main focus). It is being used a more holistic definition.

    This is important because the big “issues” and biggest challenges and problems of interoperability are usually linked to its organizational dimension and governance of interoperability, more than the technological side (that are mitigated -as you very well say- with standards).

    As an example, NATO first in 2006 talks on “ability of different military organisations…”, and later the European Union in 2009 talks on “ability of disparate and diverse organisations…”. Of course, then it is included the “technological” component but the strongest focus in the definition is swapping from the technological side to the organizational one.

    I see this important, because I consider the definition as the basis that can help in understanding and guiding to advance towards -and being aware of- a right understanding of the components and, therefore, the strategies / actions to address these critical components and dimensions in order to successfully implement interoperability, according to the definition. You can read on this in Jimenez et al (2014) available at https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6926731

    Thank you and congratulations again!!

    Sincerely,

    Carlos E. Jimenez-Gomez

  2. SULEIMAN MUHAMMD says:

    am ready for work

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