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Re: [Health] requesting assistance for GNU health data interchange

From: Emilien Klein
Subject: Re: [Health] requesting assistance for GNU health data interchange
Date: Sun, 19 Oct 2014 23:00:36 +0200

Hi Nasia,

2014-10-19 17:18 GMT+02:00 Nasia Santos <address@hidden>:
> Greetings!
>      This is Nasia Santos, a Computer Science student from Asia Pacific
> College here in the Philippines. We're enrolled in a Project Based Learning
> track and currently working on the possibility of applying e-health (GNU
> Health) for a specific organization.
> In line with this, we are supposed to integrate and connect GNU health to
> OpenMRS (an electronic medical record system) with the intention of
> exchanging patient medical records between the two systems. May we ask your
> assistance in recommending anything that would enable GNU Health to send and
> receive data.

Which type of information exchange do you have in mind when mentioning
"exchanging patient medical records"? The entire and complete data
about all or specific patients, or at least for example the
demographics (e.g. patient ID, name, date of birth, gender, address),
then lab results, maybe some documents?

In particular about the scenario you describe, what data do you have
in OpenMRS versus data you have in GNU Health? Which data are you
looking at exchanging, and in which direction (to/from OpenMRS and
to/from GNU Health)?

In any case: the most used standard for exchanging patient information
in the healthcare sector is using the HL7 standard [0] [1]. Note that
eventhough version 3 (XML based) is already more than a decade old
(develpment even started in 1995), in between systems of a hospital
(as is the case you describe here) the version 2 of the standard
(character-delimeted text) is most widely used. A new initiative
called FHIR is currently being developed as well, but is not yet
widely in use (by far).


Another term you might hear about is IHE [2] [3], which in the context
we are discussing is an organization whose goal is to clarify the use
of the HL7 standard for specific data interchange.


There are current discussions/preliminary implementation going on to
add support for HL7 (a demographics query using HL7 according to the
IHE rules, and adding support for a patient demographics query using
HL7 FHIR). But as of right now, using HL7 for these interchanges is
not yet a reality.
There are currently no active projects within GNU Health for
developing HL7 interfaces for other data types such as lab orders or

I am not familiar with OpenMRS. Looking at their wiki documentation
[4], it looks like there is minimal support for HL7 in OpenMRS:
- An incoming A28 message will create a new patient in OpenMRS.
- ORU messages will send result messages (e.g. for lab blood orders)
into OpenMRS.


One option could be to use the Mirth [5] interface engine to read
directly into the database of GNU Health, and have that software
create HL7 messages. I believe some other users of GNU Health use this


Maybe other members of the projects could inform you if there are
other options to exchange information (other ways to make direct
database reads, or maybe structured/XML exports) that are used by some

Please tell us more about your use case, to see where we can help.
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