Frequently Asked Question

International, european and Belgian standards for data exchange
Last Updated a year ago

At international level, HL7 FHIR is becoming the standard for data exchange. FHIR describes data formats and elements called resources and an application programming interface (API) for healthcare related data exchange. You will often hear that FHIR isn't a data model. This is both true and not true. FHIR resources are data models since they organize data elements and their relationships. But FHIR doesn't aim to propose new data models that are meant to replace the locally existing data models worldwide. FHIR aims to offer a technical tool box and an architecture to which all the existing data models can be mapped to provide worldwide interoperability for data exchange.

Et European level, the X-eHealth initiative aims to develop the basis for an interoperable and secure cross border Electronic Health Record exchange. Building upon the already in place European Patient Summary, X-eHealth purpose is to develop the foundations for a common framework for the exchange of medical imaging, discharge letters, laboratory results and rare diseases between EU Member States and Neighbour Countries to ensure seamless care pathways for their citizens. This includes a system of health data request and "conversion box" to make health data download and integration into local systems possible from one country to another. Now that the X-eHealth data models have been published, a X-eHealth FHIR IG (Implemantation) Guide is being made to support the exchange of the data contained in those models using the HL7 FHIR standard.

For the development of its Care Sets, Belgium uses the eventual existing Belgian data models, the logical model of the HL7 FHIR international resources and the X-eHealth data models (that may become mandatory as soon as end 2024) as starting points to propose draft Belgian national data models to work groups composed of field experts. Those work groups tailors the proposed draft data models to the actual Belgian needs of the field(s), adding, removing, modifying elements and value sets until a first beta version of the Care Set is agreed upon. The stakeholders responsible for implementing those data models are then consulted (Regional Safes, the software vendors) and proof of concept (POC) implementations are done via the Coalition of the Willing - CoW), to helps define a realistic implementation roadmap and further refine the models and their business rules prior to widespread national publications and use.

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