Ontario EHR Interoperability Standards

Patients benefit if their health information is in the hands of their health care providers at the point of care. Standards play a critical role in this, by providing consistency to the collection and exchange of patient information across the health care system.

Standards are the building blocks of electronic health records. They allow one physician to define and send the results of an X-ray or CT scan to another, without having to worry about what technology they use.

In this case, we say the patient record is interoperable, meaning that health information will rapidly move between, and be instantly understood by, different electronic record-keeping systems. This means that any time an Ontarian comes into contact with the health care system, their care provider will have immediate electronic access to all secure, pertinent and accurate patient information. That’s the power, and criticality, of standards.

Our Standards Development Process

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  • 1

    Need Identification and Business Definition

    A request for a new specification/standard, or a request to change an existing specification/standard, is initiated. Requests are assessed and prioritized against our priorities

  • 2

    Doing our Homework: Options Research and Analysis

    Once a standard is requested, the work begins. The process for researching and developing a standard varies depending on the complexity, scope, strategic significance and likely impact of the request. As a starting point, however, we look to see if other standards exist that can be re-used, either in whole or in part.

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    Solutions Development

    There is a continual feedback loop between the consultation phase and the research and development phase. In many cases, they happen simultaneously. Adoption, adaptation, and development require communication and engagement with stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement is a core strength of our standards program.

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    Testing and Pilot

    Pre-production models or versions are tested to ensure we locate or estimate any design flaws or deficiencies.

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    Training and Education

    Education and training is another fundamental undertaking of our standards program. We develop and distribute materials to help all interested parties get the information and achieve the understanding they need to succeed.

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    Implementation

    Standards implementation support is provided in the form of tools, guidelines and advice.

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    Conformance

    In this stage we check to ensure that standards have been properly implemented and that lessons learned are captured to be fed back into subsequent revisions or enhancements of solutions.

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    Maintenance and Support

    Finally, standards require constant care and attention. Our standards program regularly reviews and updates our published specifications/standards to ensure they are accurate, contemporary and accessible.