Standards and interoperability in health IT

Author: Kyle Forde

Standards and Interoperability in Health IT

Kyle Forde
15 April 2019

Forde, K. (2019). Standards and Interoperability in Health IT. (Executive Summary of a thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the degree of Master of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic.)

Executive Summary

Health care is undertaken by health care professionals – doctors and nurses – but also by a vast and complex array of support staff – all in turn supported by information technology.  All staff have something in common, they all use the same systems across the district.

With a health sector review in progress the sector anticipates significant change in how models of care are delivered in New Zealand. 

The purpose of the Health System Review:

The Government has established a review into the New Zealand Health and Disability System (the Review). This review will identify opportunities to improve the performance, structure, and sustainability of the system with a goal of achieving equity of outcomes, and contributing to wellness for all, particularly Māori and Pacific peoples. 

Interoperability is essential to ensuring data and information can be accessed by clinicians anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

The health sector has a history of delivering varying models of care across disparate IT systems and the review seeks to develop a clear pathway improving the health system. 

There is an opportunity to change how health is supported by IT, through a move to interoperability, and I am leading initiatives to support this change. These initiatives include:

  • Centralising of the Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Risk Assessment Calculation
  • Rollout of an agnostic Patient Portal aggregating many systems into a single view for a patient

Interoperability in the health sector can provide significant benefits:

  • Reduce rework in the sector e.g. developing a calculation many times for the same purpose
  • Improve quality of clinical tools e.g. CVD Risk calculations
  • Collation of clinical information for a patient into one source of the truth e.g. aggregated patient view of patient information
  • Enables patients to self-manage enabling patient empowerment through information e.g. single-entry point for a patient across multiple care settings

There is an opportunity to facilitate change and these projects provide an example of the value interoperability provides the health sector.

In this work I demonstrate how developing a standard Web Application Programming Interface (WEB API) supports interoperability in the health sector. The projects I have chosen to lead demonstrate interoperability across multiple care settings while retaining integration with legacy systems.

Key words: Health IT; Standards; Interoperability.

This research was supervised by Samuel Mann.


This thesis is not publicly available. The Executive Summary is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.

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