Global, News

WHO and HL7 support adoption of global open interoperability standards

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Health Level Seven International (HL7) have signed a project collaboration agreement to support the adoption of open interoperability standards on a global level.

Through the collaboration, WHO and HL7 aim to strengthen implementation of the WHO Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025 at country level, building capacity to support adoption and “appropriate use of interoperability standards in Member States in an equitable manner”.

The strategy includes a call for WHO to provide global guidance on interoperability standards adoption, along with guidance on how WHO guidance can be translated into digital health systems. To support the strategy’s implementation, WHO has established the ‘SMART Guidelines’ approach; this encodes packages of evidence-based recommendations along with clinical and public health protocols into data dictionaries, computable care plans and decision support logic, using interoperability standards such as HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR).

In addition to strengthening implementation of the strategy, the collaboration seeks to increase access to WHO’s guidance and recommendations through developing interoperability specifications that are applicable globally and suitable for local adaptation. Another objective is to make technical infrastructure and documentation available to support interoperability, with WHO calling for a need for a “sandbox testing environment”.

The final objective for the collaboration is to support the use of ‘WHO Family of international classifications and terminologies (WHO-FIC)‘ in the HL7 FHIR community.

WHO notes that the collaboration “builds on the leadership” of their science division in supporting member states with regards to digital transformation, adding that it will “further enable the equitable development of and access to, health interoperability standards, evidence-based guidance, and foundational architectural building blocks for digital health, to accelerate progress towards Universal Health Coverage.”

The collaboration agreement between WHO and HL7 can be found in full here.