Methods Inf Med 2007; 46(03): 332-343
DOI: 10.1160/ME5001
Schattauer GmbH

Towards Semantic Interoperability for Electronic Health Records

Domain Knowledge Governance for openEHR Archetypes
S. Garde
1   Central Queensland University, Health Informatics Research Group, Faculty of Business and Informatics, Melbourne, Victoria, and Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
P. Knaup
2   University of Heidelberg, Department of Medical Informatics, Heidelberg, Germany
E. J. S. Hovenga
1   Central Queensland University, Health Informatics Research Group, Faculty of Business and Informatics, Melbourne, Victoria, and Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
S. Heard
1   Central Queensland University, Health Informatics Research Group, Faculty of Business and Informatics, Melbourne, Victoria, and Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
3   Ocean Informatics, Australia
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
20 January 2018 (online)


Objectives: In the field of open electronic health records (EHRs), openEHR as an archetype-based approach is being increasingly recognised. It is the objective of this paper to shortly describe this approach, and to analyse how openEHR archetypes impact on health professionals and semantic interoperability.

Methods: Analysis of current approaches to EHR systems, terminology and standards developments. In addition to literature reviews, we organised face-to-face and additional telephone interviews and tele-conferences with members of relevant organisations and committees.

Results: The openEHR archetypes approach enables syntactic interoperability and semantic interpretability – both important prerequisites for semantic interoperability. Archetypes enable the formal definition of clinical content by clinicians. To enable comprehensive semantic interoperability, the development and maintenance of archetypes needs to be coordinated internationally and across health professions. Domain knowledge governance comprises a set of processes that enable the creation, development, organisation, sharing, dissemination, use and continuous maintenance of archetypes. It needs to be supported by information technology.

Conclusions: To enable EHRs, semantic interoperability is essential. The openEHR archetypes approach enables syntactic interoperability and semantic interpretability. However, without coordinated archetype development and maintenance, ‘rank growth’ of archetypes would jeopardize semantic interoperability. We therefore believe that openEHR archetypes and domain knowledge governance together create the knowledge environment required to adopt EHRs.

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