Trusting the other Party
Publication date: Nov 01, 2002
The other night I watched a debate between the two main candidates for chancellor of the German Bundesrepublik.
You must be familiar with that type of debate: two men in suits standing behind desks in exact equal height
making brief statements about issues that are likely to influence the voting behaviour of the electorate.
There actually isn't much of a debate, it's a series of intertwined monologues aimed at the viewing audience.
The situation reminded me of a curious project I was recently involved in.
One of the NHS trusts in the northern part of England had decided to build an entirely new hospital; and to equip the new hospital with all kinds of new diagnostic modalities and software applications. The hospital dated from the 1880s and most of the IT solutions from the early 1980s; the new investments made available by Tony Blair's government were clearly well spent here. Before the start of the project the various vendors involved met to discuss the overall integration strategy.
The hospital in question hadn't created an overall integration strategy; it was left up to the various application vendors to maximize the reuse of data by exchanging as much data as possible.
Most application vendors are keen to send data to other systems and considerably less so to receive data. They can't guarantee the integrity of the data that has been received; the data may corrupt whatever data was entered into their own application. Mostly there's a balancing act going on between the need for certain information on one hand, and the risks in accepting data sent by other systems on the other hand.
Standing at the whiteboard I drew a series of rectangles representing the various applications. Each vendor made a brief introduction of the application and its integration requirements. During the series of introductions I added arrows indicating the various flows of data as supported by the applications.
Slowly a very strange picture emerged: they all wanted to receive data, but none of them were able to send data.
They were willing to trust the data as sent by other systems, but weren't willing to accept responsibility for having to send reliable data to others.
Obviously this problem isn't a technical one at all. The NHS trust should have properly analysed their business processes to make sure that the set of newly acquired applications would cover those processes. The fact that none of the vendors was even willing to be a provider of basic patient demographics information shows that such an analysis had not taken place.
It just goes to show that having a listening and a speaking party isn't enough to achieve true communication or integration. Each party has to take responsibility to transmit reliable information, and to trust the other party to send reliable information as well.
Just like in politics this is unlikely to happen in the field of systems integration. Trust me.
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Index of columns:
- News from the FHIR DevDays in Amsterdam (Dec 15, 2016)
- Next XDS Release (Oct 27, 2016)
- Five years of FHIR (Aug 11, 2016)
- Interoperability projects in Ireland - FHIReland (Mar 14, 2016)
- 2016 FHIR Jedi Calendar (Jan 06, 2016)
- Top 10 HL7 videos watched in 2015 (Dec 24, 2015)
- Update from the trenches on CDA R2.1/R3 and HL7v2. (Oct 15, 2015)
- FHIR DevDays - UK GP System APIs (Sep 16, 2015)
- IHE XDS - testing and implementation tools (Aug 25, 2015)
- Most often implemented IHE Profiles (Jun 08, 2015)
- Why we sponsor the HL7 WGM (May 10, 2015)
- FHIR in Paris (Apr 21, 2015)
- Mapping HL7v2 messages to FHIR. (Apr 13, 2015)
- Analysis of CDA R2 testing tools - most requirements are neither tested nor respected. (Feb 13, 2015)
- HL7 and IHE in Sweden (Feb 08, 2015)
- 2015 FHIR Chiefs Calendar (Jan 07, 2015)
- The Merry FHIR Choir caroling the 12 Days of Christmas (Dec 09, 2014)
- Chicago FHIR Update (Oct 13, 2014)
- Internationalization of HL7 (Sep 25, 2014)
- New XDS Advanced training course on offer by IHE Services and IHE Academy (Jul 14, 2014)
- Recent and Future developments of the DICOM standard (Mar 06, 2014)
- Top 10 HL7 videos watched in 2013 (Jan 02, 2014)
- Report from the HL7 WGM in Cambridge (Oct 16, 2013)
- Documenting the history of HL7 (Sep 03, 2013)
- Histology Lab Device Automation using HL7 version 2 (Jul 23, 2013)
- HL7 FHIR Elevator Pitch (Jul 15, 2013)
- Interoperability Standards - the no-sales pitch (Jul 09, 2013)
- HL7 UK - new landscape, new opportunities (Jun 26, 2013)
- Validation and error correction at the IHE Connectathon (Apr 25, 2013)
- CDA Implementation Guides - (not) invented here (Apr 17, 2013)
- Usage of IHE Profiles (Feb 25, 2013)
- 10 year anniversary - Dutch Ringholm HL7 v2 training courses. (Feb 19, 2013)
- About IHE Academy and new IHE training courses (Jan 12, 2013)
- CDA implementation experiences in the UK (Dec 04, 2012)
- Musings on free HL7 IP (Oct 01, 2012)
- HL7 Connectathons (Sep 09, 2012)
- Renovate HL7 version 3 (Aug 03, 2012)
- Frequency of use of HL7 message types (Jul 24, 2012)
- Lighting the FHIR, HL7s new major interoperability standard (Jun 15, 2012)
- Reflections on the HL7 membership model - the affiliate life cycle (Dec 28, 2011)
- Thinking like an OWL reasoner (Sep 17, 2011)
- RFH (Resources for Health): HL7 version 3 taken to the next step (Aug 18, 2011)
- What's so great about the HL7 organization? (Aug 04, 2011)
- Kerndossier: een Nederlandse versie van CCD (Dutch, May 03, 2011)
- A HL7 RIMBAA update (Apr 21, 2011)
- Timezone Hotel (Mar 29, 2011)
- HL7 and openEHR are cooperating (finally) (Jan 21, 2011)
- Increasing demand for IHE training courses (Dec 18, 2010)
- Context issues with the IHE QED profile (Dec 15, 2010)
- The changing role of HL7 country organizations (Jul 16, 2010)
- Implementing HL7 version 3 - the book (May 06, 2010)
- Adding openness to a closed world (Feb 09, 2010)
- How to lower the hurdle for HL7 v3 implementers (Jan 21, 2010)
- HL7 v3 deployment statistics (Dec 17, 2009)
- There's Trouble in Paradigm (Sep 25, 2009)
- Internationalization of HL7 (Sep 24, 2009)
- HL7 UK signs deal with Ringholm to deliver HL7 v2/v3 training courses in London (Sep 17, 2009)
- The use of HL7 in South Africa (Aug 20, 2009)
- The Next Web Conference in Amsterdam (Apr 17, 2009)
- The HL7 UK AGM and RIMBAA (Apr 16, 2009)
- The HL7 Wiki reaches 2000 pages (Mar 02, 2009)
- The HL7 roadmap for CDA R3 and the CCD (Jan 17, 2009)
- HL7 Affiliates Meeting in Orlando (Jan 11, 2009)
- Swiss and Dutch HL7 News (Dec 31, 2008)
- Devices and Prizes (Nov 22, 2008)
- HL7 in Norway: a situation report (Sep 02, 2008)
- Russian whitepaper (Jul 09, 2008)
- The HL7 Interoperability Conference - IHIC 2008 (May 30, 2008)
- HL7 creates a RIM Based Application Architecture (RIMBAA) group (May 18, 2008)
- Notes from the HL7 WGM in Phoenix (May 08, 2008)
- Germany embraces CDA eReferral document specification (May 02, 2008)
- HL7 v3 RIM based applications: an unintended side effect (Jan 19, 2008)
- Collaborative Tools (Jun 21, 2007)
- HL7 ist Pflicht in der deutschen Telematikinfrastruktur (German, Mar 16, 2007)
- HL7 based Tree inventory system (Jan 30, 2007)
- The link between HL7 and Open Source Software (Jan 06, 2007)
- Workflow Bribery (Sep 15, 2006)
- Timezones in HL7 (Jan 23, 2004)
- Controlled vocabularies: "@*%!!!" ? (Sep 01, 2003)
- Trusting the other Party (Nov 01, 2002)
About Ringholm bv
Ringholm bv is a group of European experts in the field of messaging standards and systems integration in healthcare IT.
We provide the industry's most advanced training courses and consulting on healthcare information exchange standards.
See http://www.ringholm.com or call +31 33 7 630 636 for additional information.
Rene is the Tutor-in-chief of Ringholm.