The openEHR Foundation vision is of a world in which healthcare routinely obtains benefit from ICT, in particular:
At the heart of the openEHR mission has been the ambition to formulate the concept and design of a technology and vendor neutral specification for electronic health records. This is often referred to as the openEHR architecture or the openEHR methodology.
The he openEHR Foundation was established in 2003 in pursuit of this ambition. Its work has been framed and informed by three guiding principles: technical rigour, clinical engagement and trust. These now correspond to the key activities of the international openEHR community, organised under four Programs::
The openEHR mission is in large part one of facilitating and enabling constructive change and improvement for what is recognised globally as an extremely complex and ever-changing domain. In recognising the need to reflect this multifaceted challenge in its own organisation and operations, openEHR has been restructured since 2019 as a self-governing Community Interest Company. This draws its membership from individuals, professional consultants, health care organisations and industry partners. The now extensive intellectual property embodied in the openEHR specifications is held within the openEHR Foundation. This, likewise, is an asset-locked body, such that the openEHR IP remains freely available under a liberal Creative Commons License.
As we further develop the openEHR specifications and engage with clinicians, it is increasingly important to ensure that the platform benefits and is trusted by people using the health services it enables. At this point the openEHR architecture ensures that:
The influence of openEHR has in no small part been due to the formal acceptance of CEN 13606 as a European and ISO standard. This standard, led at different stages by key members of the openEHR community, is closely patterned on many aspects of the openEHR methodology. Part 2 of the standard is a snapshot of the openEHR Archetype specifications (renewed in 2019). The openEHR Foundation has throughout worked closely with CEN, ISO, HL7, OMG and other standards organisations on EHR-related and clinical modelling standards.
Medical terminology is a keystone component of the semantic interoperability of health record systems. Accordingly, openEHR archetypes explicitly provide for a variety of methods to implement terminology bindings, and thereby facilitate input, search and report functions. The openEHR Foundation will work closely with WHO, SNOMED International, LOINC (Regenstrief) and other terminology-publishing organisations, seeking to ensure that the openEHR architecture integrates properly with terminology.
The gradual adoption of openEHR by clinical modelling communities, standards bodies and in industry products and services, is an encouraging indication of the contribution it is making towards achieving its vision.
openEHR long ago defined its three highest priorities as ... implementation, implementation, implementation!