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Infoway to promote Open Source for interoperability

MONTREAL – Canada Health Infoway has launched an Open Source initiative that will help demonstrate how independent health information systems can exchange information with one another. This interoperability is critical to bring authorized healthcare providers complete and accurate information when and where they need it, allowing them to make better diagnosis and treatment decisions.

The Infoway Reference Implementation Suite shows how different systems, in this case client registry systems connecting to clinical systems, can communicate with one another.

Patients within the healthcare system are often registered in many different directories (registries), within clinics, hospitals or at a province-wide level. To present the complete picture of a patient’s history, it is necessary to identify patients across independent systems to be able to get a complete view of their clinical information.

To facilitate interoperability, the Infoway Reference Implementation Suite shows how common standards for exchange of health information can work when client registry systems are linked to clinical systems within a jurisdiction and with one another across jurisdictions.

In line with its mission to accelerate the development of an Electronic Health Record solution, Canada Health Infoway is working diligently to ensure that different health information systems can exchange information with one another. Without standards to ensure interoperability, there would only be a patchwork of disparate systems across the country.

“As a reference tool for implementers and vendors, the Infoway Reference Implementation Suite will enable faster uptake of Electronic Health Record interoperability standards endorsed by Infoway and our federal, provincial and territorial partners,” said Richard Alvarez, Infoway’s president and CEO.

The tool will also help mitigate the risk for all jurisdictions and organizations who wish to put in place interoperable client registry systems.

To make the system available to the broadest possible audience, Infoway has made it available free of charge under an Open Source license to all those who are interested. This is Infoway’s first contribution to the Open Source community.

“Standards-based Open Source solutions can bring value as components within Electronic Health Record systems. They can be useful tools in accelerating EHR systems development, as is the case with Infoway Reference Implementation Suite, which provides developers with source code to integrate into their solutions,” said Dennis Giokas, Infoway’s chief technology officer.

Infoway Reference Implementation Suite” Technical Overview

The Infoway Reference Implementation Suite helps to demonstrate and prove Client Registry interoperability messages using Health Level Seven (HL7) Version 2.4 and Version 3.0 standards.

The system implements the minimum subset of core Interoperable Electronic Health Record (iEHR) services and functionality that is required to demonstrate clinical system to Client Registry and Client Registry to Client Registry interoperability. It also implements a Client Registry, a simple ADT (Admit, Discharge, Transfer) Application and several key components found in middleware products (in the Infoway EHRS Blueprint we refer to this component as the HIAL – Health Information Access Layer).

The suite’s focus is on the HIAL and the interactions between the HIAL, the Client Registry and the ADT application. In addition, it demonstrates the extraction of sample clinical data from an EHR Repository Service to demonstrate (simulate) the construction of an EHR derived from different health jurisdictions in Canada.

Infoway Reference Implementation Suite will show that real HL7 V2.4 and V3.0 Client Registry messages work in a demonstration environment. Vendors may make use of the source code to accelerate their implementations of these messages.

The Infoway Reference Implementation Suite currently resides on, an Open Source distribution site. The site allows users to access the software suite plus the following supporting documentation:

• Installation Guide
• Administration Guide
• User Manual
• Overview presentation
• Technical Architecture Specification
• High Level Application Design

Link to Infoway Reference Implementation Suite location on

About Canada Health Infoway
Canada Health Infoway’s mission is to accelerate the development of compatible electronic health information systems across Canada. These systems provide healthcare professionals with rapid access to complete and accurate patient information, enabling better decisions about treatment and diagnosis. The result is a sustainable, more cost-efficient healthcare system offering improved patient safety and better quality of care. Infoway is an independent, not-for-profit corporation whose members are the federal, provincial, and territorial deputy ministers of health. At the end of March 2005, Infoway had approved $320 million for approximately 100 projects in every Canadian province and territory.

Open source refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community.