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Opereffa - initial release

Releases | June 10, 2009, 6:20 p.m.

The openEHR Foundation is pleased to announce the early release of Opereffa - openEHR REFerence Framework and Application, under development at UCL. 

As healthcare systems are under increasing pressure, internationally, they are exploring improvements in health information systems, as a key way to survive and thrive in the 21st century. As a means to support these efforts, members now working under the umbrella of the openEHR Foundation have been developing and implementing open specifications for an Electronic Health Record for many years, and these have since formed the basis of the ISO and CEN 13606 archetype standard.

In response to a recent exploration of the openEHR international clinical community's requirements, by the openEHR Clinical Review Board Chair Dr Tony Shannon, an open source clinical reference application, focused on early clinical benefit and usability, was deemed to be an important next step for the community.

This important clinical requirement has been taken up by a UCL team headed by Seref Arikan, working with Professor David Ingram, the chair of openEHR, and Tony Shannon. Seref brings considerable industrial experience of implementing health systems and has led the design and development of this open source Java based, Web 2.0 ready framework and clinical application, to tackle the challenge. This is being built in Eclipse with ongoing tooling support.

We have started with the goal of demonstrating the potential and flexibility of an archetype-enabled Electronic Health Record. The reference clinical application is being developed with the following achievements in mind:

  • to explore the all important interplay between clinicians using an EHR (including the user interface) and the technical underpinning of future proof, openEHR architecture;
  • to allow clinicians to manage the three core aspects of an EHR; namely clinical data entry, navigation around the record, and clinical data review. We have adopted a basic minimalist set of archetypes which begin to support the SOAP style of clinical documentation, as a starting point.
  • to develop good practice, disseminate and continuously improve upon clinically useful archetypes.

We are targeting a collaborative community driven process to realize these goals, with the guidance of both the clinical and technical communities of openEHR.

The application is built in Eclipse as an extension of the Java openEHR implementation led by Rong Chen of Cambio, Sweden. Design studies and pilot implementation have been undertaken to explore requirements for its integration as a clinical content layer within existing open source clinical record systems.

Though mindful that this announcement is early news of a quite early release, it is deliberately so, in the spirit of "release early, release often". We want to encourage people to share the multiple challenges with us, in the best spirit of collaborative endeavour, and get involved. The aim of this openEHR CRB led initiative is not to stimulate hypothetical debate on the right way to do things, but to begin to evolve and develop, iteratively, an openEHR clinical reference application that is of value to clinical and technical communities, public servants and commercial partners, alike.

We encourage anyone who is working to address the clinical and technical challenges of implementing the EHR to explore the very early online demo available here. You are encouraged to download and explore this in the context of your own local challenges and how the framework may help with your needs.

We look forward to your interest and involvement in the project, which will be overseen by Dr Tony Shannon and the openEHR Clinical Review Board.

The Opereffa project will be using the openEHR wiki to create a knowledge base. openEHR mailing lists (implementers mail list for technical issues and clinical mail list for domain discussions) will host community discussions about the project.

The Opereffa project homepage contains introductory information, and a live demo of the current work. The download related to Opereffa can be found at http://sourceforge.net/projects/opereffa/, These include multiple options for exploring the framework, including source and binary downloads and a live DVD with full development environment and demo server setup. There is an SVN repository here, for the latest source code. Again, details for using these resources are given in the Opereffa home page.

There is also a Jira project setup here, for the community to report issues and requests.

Opereffa is released under Mozilla open source tri-license.

Further information about the openEHR Foundation is available at http://www.openehr.org.


Dr. Tony Shannon

Professor David Ingram

Seref Arikan






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