'OpenEHR can reduce the risks of vendor lock-in and enable innovation'

Tomaz Gornik
"By storing data in an open, vendor-neutral openEHR format, it enables ecosystems of vendors to innovate and prevents lock-in, thus fostering a multi-vendor environment."

(HealthTech Wire / Interview) – Tomaz Gornik, co-founder of health IT solutions provider Marand, talks about the benefits of openEHR, which include reducing the risks associated with vendor lock-in and supporting innovation

What is openEHR and why is it important for today’s healthcare organisation?

openEHR is an open standard specification that describes the management and storage, retrieval and exchange of health data in electronic health records (EHRs). In openEHR, all health data for a person is stored in a lifetime, vendor-independent, citizen-centered EHR.

The role of openEHR is different depending on the maturity of the market we’re dealing with. In greenfield situations - our customers in Moscow and the Philippines, for example - where they do not have any substantial IT architecture, it’s a no-brainer to implement openEHR infrastructure - because they will want to start off as they mean to go on - and avoid any interoperability issues later down the line. In the developed market where there is legacy software, this journey is much more complex, because you can’t simply move the data over from a closed data model to an open one. Here we use the openEHR as an innovation platform, placing it next to the existing core applications, integrating it with legacy systems data, then using its open APIs to build new and innovative apps and applications. We call this the Postmodern EHR.

What benefits has an openEHR over a traditional EHR?

OpenEHR has been recognised by Gartner as a key element for effective health IT systems of the future. To quote from the document above, Gartner states that “truly effective and sustainable open architectures will need a capability for vendor-neutral data persistence, such as utilising a common schema or set of archetypes and rules for managing structure and unstructured data (for example, a VNA, openEHR or IHE XDS repository in combination with services for trust/consent, ecosystem governance and oversight, and reuse of data and processes for secondary purposes, such as research and population health).”

It also says that, “Providing open messaging standards (for example, FHIR, HL7) for data exchange in specific uses will only go so far in meeting the architectural challenges of digital citizen-centric care delivery.”

What is key here is that Gartner recognises that agreeing on APIs and messaging formats is not enough - and that data needs to be persisted in an open, vendor neutral format.

What other benefits can healthcare CIOs expect from openEHR?

As Gartner says in another 2017 report, healthcare delivery organisations involved in regional or national ‘whole system’ digital care initiatives are increasingly concerned over EHR vendor lock-in and proprietary interoperability solutions, which increase the cost and complexity of meaningful health information exchange (HIE). OpenEHR, says Gartner in the same document, can reduce the risk of vendor lock-in and create the right conditions for innovation.

So what solutions do you offer in this space?

Our Think!EHR Platform – a vendor-neutral health data platform with easy-to-use APIs and a set of tools to quickly develop new applications - uses IHE-based standards to integrate existing devices, systems and data. By storing data in an open, vendor-neutral openEHR format, it enables ecosystems of vendors to innovate and prevents lock-in, thus fostering a multi-vendor environment. You can read more about this Postmodern EHR approach, which is fuelling next-generation solutions here.

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Marand

Marand’s vision for healthcare IT is coined as "Integrate. Open. Innovate." Think!EHR Platform™ is well aligned with this vision as it uses IHE-based standards to integrate existing devices, systems and data. By storing data in an open, vendor-neutral format it enables ecosystems of vendors to innovate. This approach is fuelling next generation solutions known as the Postmodern EHR.