The Caribbean Looks to Build Capacity on the OpenEHR Reference Model and Develop Specific Core Archetypes

Caribbean Member States and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) are troubled by the lack of a standard or set of standards for health data and especially for transforming that data from manual form into electronic form and achieving universal interoperability. OpenEHR is a virtual community that has been working for decades and has achieved this objective, with a primary focus on electronic health records (EHR) and related systems.

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The project is the first formal training and implementation effort for OpenEHR in the Caribbean.

Models of clinical information exist in every computer system that is used in health care. While doctors, nurses and other health professionals share many clinical concepts and can communicate very effectively about these concepts, computers have not had a standard means of representing clinical information. openEHR offers this capability and in doing so provides a platform for health care computing. The openEHR approach offers opportunities and value to many different stakeholders, including clinicians, health care providers, governments, software developers and research institutions.

Components and systems conforming to openEHR are 'open' in terms of data, models and APIs. They share the key openEHR innovation of adaptability, due to the archetypes being external to the software, and significant parts of the software being machine-derived from the archetypes. The archetype specification is now an ISO standard (ISO 13606-2). These are now being used by several national governments to specify national e-health information standards.

Several countries have already adopted openEHR and in the Pan American Region. Brazil is one such country. The Caribbean Member States have heard about openEHR but there is a need for a deep understanding and for competence so that design and implementation can commence and countries may adapt the standard in their eHealth applications. OpenEHR will form a key aspect of the data and information architecture for Caribbean Member States and CARPHA and advance the journey towards interoperability.

Now a project developed by Jamaica's Ministry of Health (and one of the winners of the call for proposals for the implementation of IS4H projects promoted by the Pan American Health Organization), aims to build capacity and competence in OpenEHR among Caribbean Member States and to establish core archetypes such as Demographics. Its ultimate goal is to see Caribbean IS4H personnel gain knowledge and competence in OpenEHR Reference Model; to create technical documentation for Core Archetypes (for example: Demographics) specifically for the Caribbean Member States and made available as a Regional Public Good; and to in the end see the Core Archetypes implemented in electronic health records for Jamaica.

The project is the first formal training and implementation effort for OpenEHR in the Caribbean. It represents a new way of approaching the development of a data dictionary using an international standard that integrates with electronic health records using an open framework and being vendor independent.