Season’s Greetings from HL7NZ

Season’s Greetings from HL7NZ

At the end of my first full calendar year as HL7NZ Chairman, it’s time to reflect on a productive year for our Affiliate and look forward to the coming months. Hopefully, the fulfilment of our key goal of greatly increased outreach and engagement with the health and disability sector, including more regular updates, means that this final seasonal message can focus on providing some broader perspectives on 2017.

A key component of this strategy has been building membership and new partnerships with NZHIT and HINZ, the later providing our first-ever booth at their highly-successful 2017 Conference in Rotorua. I firmly believe that the combined resources and capabilities of our organisations can provide invaluable support to the designers and developers of digital health solutions.

In particular, we hope to continue to work on removing roadblocks, both technical and tactical, on the path to achieving heath data interoperability. Like another less worthy road, this is ‘paved with good intentions’, but also serious obstacles, notably data silos, that need to be eliminated if the greater objectives of a patient-centric health strategy are to be achieved. For example, in common with other users of patient portal products, it frustrates me that I cannot access this information, via an API, in the health and wellness monitoring application of my choice.

This not to say that the air of optimism that I expressed at the corresponding time last year has dissipated, rather that our progress has been slower than anticipated. In my annual report to the HL7NZ Board, I attributed this to the fractured nature of our health and disability sector, a period of governance changes and the ‘not invented here syndrome’. However, these are the headwinds against which we must sail and one must never underestimate the challenges of change management in our sector.

One increasingly bright light is the number of industry partners now exposing APIs based on HL7® FHIR® in open, ‘sandbox’ environments. One of these platforms will be used as one of the key components of our first 2018 event – the “Developers on FHIR” challenge – in partnership with The University of Auckland. This begins with a Webinar on December 19 and culminates on 17th March 2018 in a full day, hands-on event with submitted solutions judged by health sector leaders.

On the international front, next year will be a seminal one for HL7 as we prepare for Release 4 of FHIR – the first to contain normative content – and it would be wonderful to see as many HL7NZ members as possible contributing to this ground-breaking product. One only has to spend a short time on digital health and networking web sites to realise that FHIR has now been implemented by all of the major digital health software and cloud platform providers. Opportunities to participate in such a significant project are rare indeed!

Although FHIR has taken the world by storm, and is now HL7’s ‘primary standard’, that does not mean that we are withdrawing, or ignoring, our others standards. It is estimated that version 2 messaging will have a long usage tail and we will be engaging with the sector to gain consensus on migrating to what is likely to be the ‘final release’ of this product.

Finally, I’d like to extend sincere thanks to all of our members and benefactors (notably the Technology & Digital Services Team at the Ministry of Health) for their support in the past year and I hope that you and your families all enjoy a well-earned Christmas and New Year break. I look forward to continuing to work together with you all to progress interoperability in 2018.

Peter Jordan, Chairman HL7 New Zealand

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