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Streamlining Health Information Exchange: The OpenHIM Platform's Journey and Future


A graphic with the openhim logo and the words progress update, build in public hashtag and March 2024.


Modern digital healthcare is a complicated mix of systems and services. It’s a fact of life that necessitates interoperability and a tool that can cope with the challenges of mediating these different systems to empower Health Ministries to make use of data across information silos.


OpenHIM has been aiding teams in implementing health information exchanges for a decade. Implementers appreciate the ease of creating routes to upstream applications via the console app. Routes can be secured with authentication rules. Real-time transaction monitoring is possible for observability and issue debugging.


However, implementing OpenHIM and all the other services required for a functional health information exchange is challenging. Deploying and managing these systems is difficult and time-consuming. A few of the common challenges include patient matching, Big Data reporting, and standards implementation. 

Introducing OpenHIM Platform, an evolution designed to address these challenges.


The OpenHIM Platform and Health Information Exchange

Our goal is to provide a structured approach to deploying a health information exchange (HIE) that caters to the needs of low to middle-income countries. We offer reusable recipes that support implementing a patient matching solution, adhere to the FHIR standard for healthcare data exchange, and facilitate data warehousing and reporting. Our framework is designed to be extensible, thus accommodating custom local requirements.


Key to our approach is the Instant OpenHIE Deployment Tool, which enables swift and hassle-free deployment of all services and applications, including OpenHIM. This tool has been rigorously tested to ensure it can support easy deployment. We also offer scalable and highly available deployment options to cater to large-scale implementations.


The OpenHIM Platform is a collection of packages that encapsulate open-source applications specifically designed for health information exchange. To gain a deeper understanding of how it all works together, watch this 5-minute video Introducing OpenHIM Platform.


Key Features of the OpenHIM Platform

  • Core Components: OpenHIM for authentication and logging, and Kafka for messaging, ensure secure and efficient transaction entry and asynchronous operations.

  • Key Packages: Hapi FHIR for FHIR message storage, Clickhouse for data warehousing, and Grafana for monitoring, provide a solid foundation for managing and analyzing healthcare data.

  • Scalable Deployment: Leveraging Instant OpenHIE for rapid deployment, the platform offers tailored recipes for specific use cases, streamlining the setup process across servers.

  • Patient Matching and Reporting: Utilizing an MPI tool, the platform implements sophisticated algorithms for patient matching, creating unified patient records that enhance care and reporting accuracy.

  • FHIR Data Bundles Processing: The platform's ability to manage patient and observation data through FHIR underscores its adaptability to complex healthcare data scenarios.

  • Extensibility and System Management: Designed for integration and extensibility, the platform supports operational tools for effective service management and real-time data updating, enhancing system monitoring and management.

These features underscore the OpenHIM Platform's commitment to providing secure, scalable, and efficient health information exchange solutions, catering to the evolving needs of the healthcare industry.


Recent and Future Developments

The most recent addition to OpenHIM Platform, the aforementioned concept of default recipes that allow users to deploy a set of packages for a particular use case. Rather than having to figure out what packages to deploy and how to orchestrate them to work together. These recipes help deploy consistent implementations faster with less required expertise, and so lower barriers for entry for lower resource settings. 


Maturation of the platform

Future enhancements for the OpenHIM Platform include addressing technical debt, optimizing setup procedures, conducting performance testing, undertaking security assessments, and making architectural improvements. These steps are aimed at strengthening the platform's foundation.


User Interface Revamp

A particularly exciting development for long-time users of OpenHIM is a UX-driven revamp of the user interface. This overhaul is designed to simplify complex areas of the interface for a more intuitive and user-friendly experience for both new and existing users. Ideally, reducing the need for in-depth training or relying on memory users will recognise universal elements and know how they work.



Community Collaboration and Feedback

Jembi is actively developing and evolving the technology, inviting feedback and involvement through their website and community pages.


The OpenHIM platform benefits from community feedback and collaboration, which are crucial for fostering innovation and ensuring that the platform meets the diverse needs of healthcare systems. 

In the future, we will provide more information on how the community can collaborate and share their insights and experiences.



Takeaways

The OpenHIM Platform is a crucial tool in advancing health data exchange, emphasizing the importance of secure, scalable, and interoperable solutions that are quick and easy to get started with. The platform encourages engagement from the community, inviting feedback and participation in its future development of this open source platform.


At Jembi, we are committed to keeping OpenHIM, and the new OpenHIM platform which extends it, at the forefront of interoperability in Africa and Southeast Asia. 


Our goal is to make health information exchange deployment easy for anyone globally.

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