NHS service standard - 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


GOV.UK resources

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.

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Would you like to contribute to the NHS service standard?

If you have any questions, you can message us on Slack. You will need a Slack account if you do not have one. Or you can contact us by email.

Updated: January 2020