Open data is key to establishing long term reliable systems that will provide extensive support to healthcare providers. But there are some misconceptions about open data as well as some facts that are generally unknown. So, we decided to disperse a bit of knowledge and lay those misconceptions to rest forever.
In a nutshell, open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone with authority to do so. But let’s dig a bit deeper.
First and foremost, Open data is FAIR. It complies with FAIR guiding principles to improve Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse of digital assets.
Open data doesn't mean open access. Open data platforms provide access to data in a controlled and clearly defined manner according to individual organisation’s policies. In addition, open data solutions provide a complete audit trail for each user – all access and actions are traced and securely stored to a separate server and can be reviewed.
Open data allows for the creation of ecosystems. Because it provides open access to data regardless of the application storing it, open data platforms allow for the creation of a multivendor ecosystem of applications. This means healthcare providers can pick and choose a vendor they want to work with without worrying that the data will be isolated and inaccessible.
Open data makes the work of medical teams easier. An open data digital platform provides medical teams with access to crucial information about their patients at the right time. This way they can rest assured they are giving the best possible treatments to those in their care.
Open data systems remove the necessity to start from scratch. Introducing open data platforms does not mean that existing systems need to be replaced because healthcare organisations can build new applications on top of the platform. The platform can also incorporate the data from the existing applications. As organisations add new applications, they work with the same data, not additional data. In this way, existing systems can keep on running for business purposes, while new applications can be built according to organisations needs and resources.
Open data makes interoperability easier. It removes barriers to access, use and shareability of data. One piece of open data can be freely combined with other pieces of open data. Different modules or components can work together which is essential to building large complex systems.
Open data enables a holistic view of patients. Via open data platforms, data can be separated from technology and combined from different solutions, giving care providers a more comprehensive view of their patient's health history. This inevitably leads to better decisions and improved patient outcomes.
Open data gives better insights. Since open data allows for more data to be combined, it provides better insights into different aspects of healthcare: workflows, patient oversights, remote care, costs to mention but a few.
Open data puts healthcare providers in charge of their data. This is one of the biggest problems in healthcare today. Organisations cannot at will access the data kept in their systems. But open data platforms remove the vendor lock-in enabling healthcare providers to access the data (with appropriate consent) without having to seek it from the vendors.
Open data hastens innovation. With the increased ability to combine different datasets together, open data platforms allow healthcare institutions to work with different vendors to create new solutions. This drives competition and thereby the development of better products and services. Also, accessing data for research can lead to new cures and treatments for different conditions.
The open data approach can be successfully applied in different contexts. Open data platform can be adopted on a hospital, city, regional or country level. Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is creating an ecosystem of solutions from different vendors based on an open data platform. Moscow, Malta, Slovenia, Finland are all basing their healthcare infrastructure on open data platforms.
Open data is based on the openEHR digital specifications. This removes the need to have one-on-one integration of different systems and enables the data to be connected and shared via the centralized data repository.
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