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How Standards & Standardised Infrastructure Fuel Innovation

It might surprise a lot of people to learn that standards can be viewed as a tool to support innovation, to set businesses free and to focus on the core of their product where their expertise lie. When working with the use of electronic communication systems within the entire healthcare sector, the main focal point is often ensuring a good support for collaboration and work processes. Intuitive, engaging and easy-to-use interfaces are also seen as a key element in succeeding with digital healthcare solutions used in the patient’s own home.

Denmark’s digitised healthcare system

Denmark has one of the most advanced and highly digitised healthcare systems in the world. This encompasses an advanced infrastructure including a set of national standards for secure collecting and sharing healthcare data from the patient’s home.

The infrastructure is based on the national reference architecture for collecting health data from citizens. “The reference architecture defines guidelines for standardised, efficient and secure transfer of measuring and monitoring results, including images, video and text messages, so that these can be made available to the health professionals that need them in the treatment of patients. The data may have been collected by the individual citizens themselves or by health professionals assisting the individual citizen[1].” The purpose of the reference architecture is to: “support the dissemination of telemedicine solutions by ensuring a standardised and simpler way of collecting data and making it available to employees in the healthcare sector.”

The infrastructure is partially based on the HL7 Personal Healthcare Monitoring Report (PHMR) and document-based access using profiled IHE XDS standards. Furthermore, a number of specialised components have been developed to ensure that healthcare professionals seeking information about patients via the national infrastructure are treating the patient in question. There is a log-service giving patients access to information about all information requests made into their journal via the national infrastructure, as well as a service checking for negative consent made by the patient.

Reference architecture for collecting health data

The core of the infrastructure is a Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing service that enables sharing of data collected in the patients’ own home between healthcare professionals in different sectors of the healthcare system – for example between clinicians at the hospitals, healthcare professionals in the sector handling social care and the patient’s own GP. One of the main principles of the reference architecture defining the infrastructure is that “the information must be made available to the parties in a way that ensures independence between the internal structure in the systems supplying the data and the systems consuming the data”.

This infrastructure enables companies to develop point-of-care technologies and has data made available across the different sectors of the healthcare system – social care, primary and secondary care. One of the key benefits is that the demands they must adhere to in terms of data security are very clear. If they use the infrastructure to store and share data all they must do is deliver data in accordance with the national standards which are publicly available at the national health data agency’s website.

The infrastructure is based on international standards (HL7) and the referential architecture defining the infrastructure states that if there are areas where there is a need for the implementation, they must be addressed. The use of data collected from citizens (not mature international or national standards) exists and the reference architecture should identify the area that needs further development. The national health data agency in Denmark is responsible for the national reference architecture for collecting health data from citizens and for the national infrastructure and its components. They are responsible for ensuring coherent healthcare data and are constantly looking into new ways to improve the way we work with and use healthcare data in Denmark.

CoLab Plug & Play

A number of publicly funded organisations are at their disposal to help them and facilitate the uptake and use of the standards.

Colab Plug&Play is a technical test and demonstration lab for digital healthcare solutions. It is a part of the innovation efforts and smart specialisation strategy in the Region of Southern Denmark. Colab Plug&Play provide a physical and technical test environment where companies can work with, test and develop their solutions from a very early stage – and work with the technical integrations in a life-like physical test environment. This would mean utilising standards and standardised infrastructure as a tool to facilitate innovation.

Katrine Vedel
is a Special Advisor at the Health Innovation Centre of Southern Denmark & Manager of CoLab Plug & Play in Denmark where she works on state-of-the-art test facilities combined with technological service and counselling.


Katrine will be speaking at the Global Cyber Security in Healthcare & Pharma Summit in May. With limited spaces available, register now.


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