Vision and Mission
The openEHR Foundation vision is of a world in which healthcare routinely obtains benefit from ICT, in particular:
- life-long, patient-centric EHRs (electronic health records);
- computable health data that fulfils its key role at the centre of professional health care practice, research and education;
- a trusted balance of privacy for citizens and accountable, appropriate information sharing among care-givers.
At the heart of the openEHR mission is the construction of an open, vendor neutral platform for electronic health records and computable clinical and research data. The 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. The platform consists of openly published technical specifications, clinical models, open source software, and educational resources. The development of these resources by the international openEHR community is organised under various work Programs, including the following:
- Specification Program:
- developing rigorous, specifications, validated by implementation;
- participating in international standards development;
- Clinical Program:
- developing clinical models (archetypes and templates), terminology sub-sets, re-usable queries, clinical process plans;
- engaging in clinical implementation projects;
- Software Program:
- developing open-source platform software components and tools;
- participating in connectathons and implementation trials;
- Education Program:
- producing materials for education and dissemination in the e-health sector;
- advocacy and locale-based education and dissemination;
- working with national standards organisations.
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, the openEHR Foundation has been restructured in 2019 by the addition of a self-governing UK Community Interest Company (CIC). 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.
Developing Trust: patients and citizens at the centre
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:
- healthcare data can be stored within the EHR, with no personally identifying information;
- information may be managed in a distributed fashion, being stored and/or made available only where it is required and in line with GDPR requirements;
- by design, there is transparent accountability for the handling of the EHR by users and providers;
- the owner of the record can partition the information and control access.
openEHR as a standard
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!