17. Make your service interoperable
In an organisation as diverse and complex as the NHS, we need systems and services which talk to each other. Build for interoperability to share patient records and get data quickly from one place to another.
Why it's important
Connected systems make it easier for the public and health professionals to access and share the information they need. Interoperability helps make sure that data is communicated accurately and quickly and that patients get seamless care.
What you should do
Your team should be able to show that:
- you work to open standards and the Technology Code of Practice
- you maximise flexibility and make content, tools and services available through well-designed APIs to reach more people
- you use agreed FHIR-based APIs to join up care for patients
- where appropriate, you use the NHS number and NHS data registers and comply with NHS clinical information standards
- for disease information in mortality and morbidity statistics, you use ICD-10 (the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases, version 10)
- for electronic care records, you use SNOMED CT (structured clinical vocabulary)
- if you create any data sets that could be useful to others, you publish them in an open machine readable format, under an Open Government Licence, unless they contain personally identifiable information, sensitive information, or where publishing the data would infringe the intellectual property rights of someone outside the NHS or government
- if you use barcodes or similar identifiers, you comply with the GS1 Barcode Standard as set out in Scan4Safety
- where relevant, you comply with the standards published by the Open Standards Board
In the GOV.UK service standard, open standards are part of point 13. Use and contribute to open standards, common components and patterns.
Here are some useful GOV.UK resources.
- Application programming interfaces (APIs)
- Introducing registers
- Open standards principles
- Technology Code of Practice
- Working with open standards
Read more about this
- The API hub in the Health Developer Network (NHS Digital)
- Code of conduct for data-driven health and care technology (Department of Health and Social Care)
- ICD-10, version: 2016 - the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases (WHO)
- ISB 0149 NHS number - this information standard sets out the scope and use of the NHS number (NHS Digital)
- NHS API developer portal (NHS.UK)
- NHS clinical information standards (NHS Digital - beta)
- NHS digital reference data registers (NHS Digital - beta)
- Open Government Licence (The National Archives)
- SNOMED CD - a structured clinical vocabulary for use in an electronic health record (NHS Digital)
- Use of FHIR-based APIs (NHS Digital - beta)
- Talk to us on the service manual Slack channel or email the standards team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get in touch
If you’ve got a question about the NHS digital service manual or want to feedback, get in touch.
Updated: January 2020