International expertise sought on e-health standards

In a bid to establish international e-health standards across the globe, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) has just completed a month-long program of consultation with industry leaders from the US, UK and Canada.

The consultation was held to discuss international standards, best practice, processes and to simplify the procurement and deployment of e-health solutions.

Australia is setting the framework to complete the mammoth task of moving all health records online and NEHTA must identify the standards and infrastructure to support interoperability of all information systems across states and territories.

Dr Ian Reinecke, the authority's CEO, said as many other countries strive towards the same goal each country has encountered similar complexities, so it is vital to draw on the knowledge of other nations.

"Australia needs to understand the e-health experiences of other countries, to learn from them and seek international alignment on key areas such as standards," he said.

"It is also important to look at success models around the world and consider how those processes and approaches may apply to e-health initiatives here."

Earlier this month, Reinecke, met with the CEO of Canada Health Infoway, Richard Alvarez, along with the national coordinator for health IT in the US, David Brailer, and the UK's director general of IT, Richard Granger.

"These discussions have proved to be extremely valuable and a commitment to establish informal working groups on an ongoing basis has been made," Reinecke said.

"The objective is to achieve alignment wherever possible and this includes common, international standards."

Reinecke said this will simplify the procurement and deployment of health IT solutions, increase the rate of adoption and achieve cost efficiencies throughout the implementation process.

Earlier this week US e-health luminary, Ken Rubin, arrived in Sydney to speak at a range of forums on e-health standards and consult with key NEHTA stakeholders.

Rubin provided consultative support as a lead architect supporting the US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Information Architecture Office - the VHA is the largest healthcare provider in the US.

"Ken Rubin's leadership in e-health is unparalleled; the US Veterans Health Administration is regarded as one of the best and most successful e-health systems in the world. We are very fortunate at NEHTA to have him share his experiences with us," Reinecke said.

Rubin was one of two international assessors responsible for independent verification and validation, earlier this year, of NEHTA's electronic health record architecture report.

He is actively involved with industry standards groups such as Health Level Seven and the Object Management Group in developing approaches to semantic interoperability and service architecture.

While in Sydney, he will speak at a Standards Australia seminar today and the 10th HL7 conference this Thursday, May 25, 2006.

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