he Standards and Interoperability Lab-Asia (SIL-Asia), with support from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), has provided capacity-building support to the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) Nepal in the initiative to establish a health interoperability laboratory in the country. A health interoperability lab is a facility focusing on the interoperability of digital health applications. It is where the government, private sector, and academia can come together to test, create, innovate and connect digital health information systems. With digital health experts’ help, the lab ensures that health information systems are standards-based and interoperable.
In the Nepal eHealth Strategy 2017, the MOHP Nepal has stressed the need for an efficient exchange of information between the various eHealth information systems in the country. There are a number of national health information systems and different other disease-specific information systems in Nepal. Different levels in the government use several other health information systems. Additionally, the non-public sector uses many other commercial systems. These systems need to be interoperable for reducing the redundancies and duplication of efforts within data systems in the health sector, with a particular focus on the three diseases, namely, HIV, TB, and Malaria.
The capacity-building support aims to facilitate interoperability among these eHealth information systems by establishing a health interoperability laboratory. On February 17-19, 2021, SIL-Asia conducted an introductory workshop with MOHP Nepal on ‘Establishing a Laboratory for Interoperability of Electronic Health Information Systems.’ MOHP Nepal Secretary, Mr. Laxman Aryal, graced the inaugural session of the workshop. Dr. Bikash Devkota, Chief of QSRD, MOHP Nepal, also oriented the participants on Nepal’s current landscape of eHealth information systems and the benefits of interoperability in the health sector.
Participated in by around 75 participants, the workshop:
- raised awareness on interoperability in the context of Nepal’s eHealth sector;
- discussed the essential components for setting up an interoperability laboratory; and
- informed about the continued technical collaboration among Asian countries in matters related to health information systems’ interoperability.
It included topics on digital health foundations, introduction to interoperability, interoperability lab stater toolkit, digital health impact framework, testing & benchmarking, standards & interoperability, and Health Level Seven International – Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7-FHIR) deep dive.
The concept for the Standards and Interoperability Lab – Asia was first conceived at the Regional Interoperability Workshop organized by AeHIN in Manila last August 2015 at the sidelines of the Global Health Research Forum. The regional lab was designed to serve as a template of labs in each country that will later form into the Community of Interoperability Labs (COIL).