Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has approved the National Health Normative Standards Framework (HNSF) for Interoperability in eHealth.

The NDoH stated that up to date eHealth investments have not created the desired ’network effect’ because of lack of interoperability between heterogeneous IT systems. As a solution, the interoperability framework has been developed to be used to achieve the desired network effect.

The framework prescribes the requirements for the use and exchange of digital data to support healthcare in order to optimise healthcare delivery, research and education.

In the announcement of approval, which was published in notice 314 in Gazette 37583 on April 23rd, the following requirements are prescribed in the framework:

  • Patient information systems used in the health sector should comply with the national health normative standards for interoperability in eHealth.
  • Patient information systems must be subjected to independent conformity assessments to ascertain its level of compliance with the normative standards.
  • Certificates of conformity in compliance must be issued.
  • The DoH must allocate a budget to establish and maintain the foundational national shared eHealth infrastructure to provide for health information exchange, security and audit services, demographic registries and shared clinical repositories.
  • The budget must also provide for the establishment and maintenance of a “connectathon” which will be used for compliance assessment.
  • A National eHealth Standards Board must be established by the department to govern and maintain the implementation of the framework.
  • The framework must be updated and published by the department when necessary.

The NDoH commissioned the development of the HNSF with the primary objective of setting the foundational basis for interoperability as articulated in the eHealth Strategy South Africa 2012-2016. The HNSF was developed by the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR) in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

The framework represents the first step towards a complete health enterprise architecture specification for South Africa. When fully developed, this enterprise architecture will define how eHealth solutions, across all levels of healthcare in both the public and private health systems, will interoperate with each other to support person-centric continuity of healthcare.

The full framework document can be downloaded from here.

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