InteropEHRate aims to support peoples’ health by opening them up new ways to make health data available where needed. To make this possible, key health data is managed in “patients’ hands”, i.e. through Smart EHRs (S-EHR) on mobile devices. Data is always transferred via highly secure channels including a direct device-to-device (D2D) communication. Patients are in full control of their data and its routes.
InteropEHRate has developed open interchange protocols supporting patient-centred exchange of health records between patients, healthcare actors, and researchers. Thus, the project will contribute to the next steps in the follow-up of the February 2019 EC recommendation and help to pave the way towards an open European EHR exchange format and process. It will specifically add a decentral, patient-driven bottom-up approach as an alternative method to the top-down approach of exchanging patient data exclusively via the national contact for points for eHealth (NCPeH).
InteropEHRate is funded by the European Union for 45 months and is implemented by a unique consortium of experienced institutions and qualified experts. InteropEHRate partners represent healthcare solution providers, hospitals, universities, and research centers as well as European and local stakeholder associations.
The InteropEHRate approach is guided by a future-proof perspective where most citizens will own mobile health repositories, called Smart EHRs (S-EHRs), managing a wide range of their own personal health data on smart devices (typically smartphones or tablets, but in the future also other types of smart devices), regardless of whether the data have been produced by health professionals, by any sensor or device or by the citizen herself/himself.
Thanks to the adoption of the standards for device-to-device (D2D) data transfer developed by the project, the citizens will be able to exchange data with institutions and move easily their data from one storage location to another, independently from the devices implied and the specific institution. By integrating as much as possible state-of-the-art European and international standards and profiles, this approach enables citizens and patients to control, exchange, and share personal health data with health providers (e.g. hospitals, single specialists, laboratories) or with medical research organizations.
In addition, where legal constraints prevent so far the direct exchange of health data among institutions, even in pseudonymized or anonymized way, a patient driven, locally established communication may open extra routes to overcome those barriers. As a consequence, health data can be better utilised for healthcare and research with the intervention of patients. Thus InteropEHRate aims to unlock health data from local silos and give more power to citizens in managing their own health data across different countries.
Innovative contribution of the project
InteropEHRate opens to citizens and patients a meaningful choice for the method their health data is being stored and exchanged. Such they can benefit from its usage everywhere it is needed and gain also more control making the process fully compliant with the GDPR. This choice is made possible by developing an innovative health data storage on smartphones. Citizens can also initiate by themselves standardised communications, and transfer data, e.g. to hospital outpatient services by using secure remote connections via the internet and, in addition, by building new connections without the usage of the internet between the citizen’s device and the healthcare provider systems using short-range device-to-device communication.
InteropEHRate will also innovate interoperability among European EHRs. It will exploit existing technical and semantic infrastructures such as the eHealth Digital Services Infrastructure (eHDSI) funded by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to incrementally realize an open European EHR exchange.
Why is a project like this needed?
Today, citizens and patients moving across Europe have very limited access and control over their own health data. While digitisation in member states is rapidly progressing, patient health data – also in digital form – is spread out with various health providers and locked in different silos. There are legal and technological constraints, but also semantic barriers, such as the different languages and terminologies adopted by different countries. As a consequence, citizens cannot easily make sure that their complete health data is available to different physicians as necessary for safe and efficient treatment, possibly in different countries, and cannot access themselves their full clinical history.
What are the expected results?
The key result is an interchange method comprising multiple components for establishing interoperable routes to communicate health data between different actors incl. patients and researchers. The method will consist of a specification and a reference implementation
- The Interoperate format specification – responding to the February 2019 EC recommendation towards an open European EHR exchange format – aims to become a HL7 FHIR specification in support of syntax and semantic requirements.
- The project will moreover deliver a reference implementation that demonstrates the communication processes between patient APP and the health care providers as well as research institutions.
- In the long run, the specifications will be submitted to the international standardization process.
On the operational and product level, InteropEHRate will offer specific components to extend existing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Health Information Systems (HIS) and to provide them with interoperable interfaces with S-EHRs. This includes the automatic translation of health data into the language of the country of the actual healthcare encounter.