People may have heard many times about semantic interoperability, but the concept often remains unclear. Without semantic interoperability, sharing data among disparate healthcare IT systems in a useful way is impossible. We thus speak about the ability of a healthcare system to share information and have that information properly interpreted by the receiving system in the same sense as intended by the transmitting system.
Why is semantic interoperability back on the agenda?
Aside from cross-border care, the recent focus on Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the European Health Data Space (EHDS) is bringing new impetus to this strategic element of semantic interoperability. The COVID-19 pandemic has also massively contributed to put semantic interoperability higher on the eHealth agenda. During the pandemic, data needed indeed to flow quickly from the point of care to epidemiologists and needed to be analysed on the go. Public safety and the capacity to adapt quickly to the evolution of the virus’s variants was everywhere a priority. Value-based medicine also requires putting the patient at the centre. Here again, semantic interoperability can play a key role by making medical terms both accessible and understandable to non-specialists.
What challenges need to be resolved now?
Data structuring and coding is now becoming essential, but many countries and organisations are still ill equipped to handle it (they have a dire lack of national infostructure, in particular since tools and a majority of products are reliant on proprietary codes). For clinicians, this usually means extra work for which they are not trained or motivated. We therefore need to solve the difficult equation of having data coded with the lowest possible investment from the clinicians while still allowing them to express all the nuances needed. With the patient now very much at the centre, semantic transformation could also take place under citizen control provided that a number of conditions and precautions are met.
In this EHTEL webinar, which is developed in collaboration with the InteropEHRate and OPEN DEI projects, we will explore what needs to be developed to support a larger number of use cases.
- What is the role of national competent authorities?
- What are the best practices and what are the main services which would need to be provided by national authorities?
- In the absence of a pro-active national dedicated strategy, are there resources and tools available for developers and users which can easily be used and can support major use cases?
- Are the two tools – Natural Language Processing and Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) – now sufficiently mature to help make significant progress?
- What role will be eventually anticipated from patients?
Semantic interoperability is a must for cross border care
Konstantin Hypponen, EU Commission - DG Health and Food Safety (SANTE)
What has been done at European level (Myhealth@EU) to allow data to travel across countries? What is required from end-users (and possibly local electronic health record industry) and to validate a patient summary? What are the main evolutions expected?
The role of national public authorities
Chantal Schiltmeijer, NICTIZ
Doing what with whom? For which purposes? For what aspects is public investment absolutely needed? What kind of governance needs to be put in place? What is the role of a national terminology server?
The IEHR semantic tools: A solution available to all? Under which conditions?
Gabor Bella, IEHR project, University of Trento
- Do you believe healthcare organisations are now sufficiently conscious of the importance of semantic interoperability?
- Is the public investment in your country sufficient?
- For whom do you believe that the IEHR tools can provide added value?
- Can the individual patient become the validator of medical data?
- Benny Van Bruwaene (BT Computing – Belgium)
- Vincent Keunen (Andaman7- Belgium)
- Aleksandar Gluščević (Health Centre Zagreb, Croatia)- TBC
- Samuel Danhardt (Agency eHealth – Luxemburg)
Closing of webinar