More than a hundred representatives of public bodies, academics from universities, developers and innovators and the largest technology companies in the field of digital health in our country recently pushed the top er Chilean Chapter of HL7. This local body was born under the eaves of the main global entity dedicated to the standardization of health data: the Health Level Seven.
Headquartered in the United States and present in 39 countries on four continents, HL7 promotes the development of a common technical language to facilitate the electronic exchange of clinical information. Companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google, as well as state projects in Canada, Australia, the United States and the Netherlands, use their standards to facilitate this transfer.
The members of the Chilean chapter chose as their first president the academic of the University of Valparaiso César Galindo, teacher of the School of Engineering of the spanish campus and member of the committee of academics of the National Center for Systems of Health Information (Cens).
«We have been able to connect the local ecosystem in the common need to promote interoperability standards and foster the participation and collaboration of the entire health-related community with a view to this process,» said Galindo, who has collaborated on projects seeking to lay the technical foundations for the country’s digital transformation, including the Ministry of Health’s shared clinical history, hopes to lead a participatory community
In his first activity as president of the alliance, the UV academic presented the constitution of the Chilean chapter at the HL7 International Council, held in the city of Sydney, Australia. «This chapter will allow us to move forward strongly in spaces that are basal for a much more digitized ecosystem that benefits both decision makers, clinical specialists and patients,» said Cens’ academic committee member.
The collective will operate under the administrative eaves of the National Center for Health Information Systems, a body supported by Corfo and five Chilean think houses, including the University of Valparaíso, which promote the digitization of health in our country. To this end, its purpose is to incentivize the interoperability of the national health system through the use of standards in electronic clinical records.
«The correct use of health information exchange standards is a fundamental axis for digital transformation and the process of change that the sector will face over the next ten years in Chile. And in that process, the question we ask ourselves is where we want to go and where we focus this dynamic to have a better country in the field of health,» Galindo reflects.
The teacher states that the technical bases of the process are key to this technological evolution in the country, which will not only benefit the clinical world and patients, but also the development of innovation and knowledge transfer from research at the Local. All this, with a strong social content with a focus on the improvement of human health and the empowerment of patients about their health information at all levels of care.
The challenge they face as a local ecosystem in ICT’s in health aims to encourage the adoption of long-term strategies in the public sphere and a sustained public-private partnership, which will bring about substantive changes. He warns that if health systems, from hospitals to laboratories, and from clinical care to administrative services, do not operate under a logic of sharing information through standards, as a country we will be losing efficiency every day in the use of ever-scarce health resources and an opportunity to provide better health for citizens.
«Possibly people don’t care what technology we use, but just that we drive the necessary changes. Digital health is the opportunity to have a more personalized health, more human in terms of quality and with more agile times for the recovery of ailments and early detection of diseases. Our job will be to demonstrate to decision makers that consolidating these interoperability standards will have the greatest impact on human health for the country,» he says.
HL7 values Chilean challenge
Walter Suarez, president of HL7 International and director of technology strategy for US health provider Kayser Permanente (a firm with nearly 13 million affiliates in eight US states) highlighted the shaping of the Chile’s first chapter of HL7 as an opportunity to move towards the digitization of health in the country.
«Digital health and information technology systems can help countries achieve universal health coverage. The main reasons are that systems become more efficient and many problems of duplication of services, excesses, fraud and inappropriate use of health services are avoided. All these elements create a high tax burden and a financial constraint on equitable access to health,» he says.
Dr. Suarez’s experience using electronic clinical records for a population equivalent to that of Chile’s public health system has contributed, among other factors, to achieving nearly 90% coverage of preventive screenings in breast cancer and 84% early diagnosis in colon cancer, more than 25% than the average without data standardization.
To this end, explains the president of HL7 International, the health systems of Latin America need to consolidate a robust technological infrastructure, standards for the storage, definition and exchange of data, and the use of integrated systems in medical benefits that can use such information, both in hospitals and in laboratories.
«There has been a significant increase in preventive controls, and the total of early deaths averted, i.e. lives saved, as a result of the increased control, detection and early management of these diseases. Standards, which are the ability to maintain information in coded and structured form within each of the clinical history systems, are critical to that achievement.»
The Chilean Chapter of HL7 already has open the call for memberships and the development of courses, workshops and conferences by international experts, whose objective is to encourage the use of standards of information exchange in projects of innovation by development teams, public institutions and companies.