A Review of Interoperability Standards in E-health and Imperatives for their Adoption in Africa

Funmi Adebesin, Rosemary Foster, Paula Kotzé, Darelle Van Greunen

Abstract


The ability of healthcare information systems to share and exchange information (interoperate) is essential to facilitate the quality and effectiveness of healthcare services. Although standardization is considered key to addressing the fragmentation currently challenging the healthcare environment, e-health standardization can be difficult for many reasons, one of which is making sense of the e-health interoperability standards landscape. Specifically aimed at the African health informatics community, this paper aims to provide an overview of e-health interoperability and the significance of standardization in its achievement. We conducted a literature study of e-health standards, their development, and the degree of participation by African countries in the process. We also provide a review of a selection of prominent e-health interoperability standards that have been widely adopted especially by developed countries, look at some of the factors that affect their adoption in Africa, and provide an overview of ongoing global initiatives to address the identified barriers. Although the paper is specifically aimed at the African community, its findings would be equally applicable to many other developing countries.

Keywords


E-health, interoperability, standards, standards development organizations

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18489/sacj.v50i1.176

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