HIMSS writes new definition of interoperability

HIMSS has crafted a new definition for interoperability and is seeking public feedback on it. Let’s see the contents.

The new definition stems from HIMSS’s aspiration to describe and achieve global interoperability from an international perspective.

The definition is worded as follows: “Interoperability is the ability of different information systems, devices or applications to connect, in a coordinated way, within and beyond organizational boundaries to access, exchange and use data in a cooperative way between stakeholders, with the aim of optimizing the health of individuals and populations”.

The definition foresees four levels of interoperability: foundational, structural, semantic and organisational. Here are the details of each level:

  • Foundational interoperability develops the building blocks of information exchange between disparate systems by establishing the inter-connectivity requirements needed for one system or application to share data with and receive data from another.
  • Structural interoperability defines the structure or format of data exchange (syntax) ensuring that data exchanges between information technology systems can be interpreted at the data field level
  • Semantic interoperability is the ability of two or more systems to exchange information and interpret and use it, and it is based on both the structuring of data exchange and coding.
  • Organizational interoperability encompasses the technical components as well as clear policy, social and organizational components. These components facilitate the secure, seamless and timely communication and use of data within and between organizations and individuals.
  • Salutedigitale took part in the survey, suggesting a fifth level: functional interoperability, which lies between semantics and organization. This level should define the functionalities and protocols that the previous levels allow to realize.
    Organizational interoperability should then include policies, rules and process definitions that are then implemented using the available functions.
  • The issue is certainly of interest since interoperability is one of the most important aspects of digital health. A correct definition and structuring of interoperability are therefore necessary for a correct and effective sharing of information among stakeholders.
  • And you, what do you think?
  • 2 thoughts on “HIMSS writes new definition of interoperability

    1. Augusto Ruggeri 27 Mar 2019 / 15:23

      Dear Massimo,
      I fully agree with you, the functional interoperabilityis clearly missing in this classification, or at least organizational interoperability needs to be better defined. In any case keeping the business logic and the process as two distinct layers would be preferrable.
      The paper from Prof. Bernd Blobel et al. (https://www.ejbi.org/scholarly-articles/why-do-we-need-an-architectural-approach-tointeroperability.pdf) is clearly explaining the differences between the two definitions.


    2. italya üniversiteleri 18 Nov 2019 / 15:32

      Great post! We are linking to this particularly great article on our website.
      Keep up the good writing.


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