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The IJIS Factor is the IJIS Institute's blog that covers technology and information sharing and safeguarding topics, including national standards and initiatives.


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HL7 Annual Plenary and Working Group Meeting

Posted By Tim Grapes, Thursday, October 11, 2018

Last week, I presented at the annual Health Level 7 (HL7) 32nd Annual Plenary and Working Group Meeting with Elysa Jones, Chair of the OASIS Emergency Management Technical Committee (EMTC). Our Birds of a Feather (BoF) session was entitled Bridging the Gap Part 2: HL7/OASIS Advancements in Emergency Continuity of Care.

At the event, OASIS and HL7 announced their joint release of the EDXL Hospital Availability Exchange Standard (HAVE) 2.0 1. It is a companion to the jointly released, bi-directional transformation specification between OASIS EDXL Tracking of Emergency Patients (TEP) and HL7 Admission/Discharge/Transfer V2 Specification that was announced in 2016.

I chair the TEP Subcommittee of the OASIS EMTC, which develops and addresses public and private feedback to the OASIS EDXL-Tracking of Emergency Patients (EDXL-TEP) messaging standard. The TEP standard assists emergency responders, coordinators, and management in the exchange of emergency patient and EMS tracking information from emergency scene to hospital or morgue.

The BoF session included an overview of the EDXL work with a focus on the medical response and healthcare domains and highlighted real-world applications of the TEP and HAVE work. The session also featured a live demonstration by Global Emergency Response (GER) of these standards in action, first through their work with Hurricane Florence and then by scanning and tracking audience volunteers.

The session was well attended by a diverse and engaged audience. The demonstration did a good job clarifying how the real-time nature of this information exchange enables greater situation awareness and transition of care. Audience discussion then turned to important issues related to policy, privacy, security, ease of implementation, and opportunities for re-use or reallocation of current assets, especially during mass casualty incidents.

The combined use of these interrelated standards offers emergency support agencies and hospital and healthcare facilities opportunities for greatly improved situational awareness, patient tracking and continuity of care, hospital preparedness, and family reunification.

But, as many of us are fond of saying, a standard isn’t a standard unless it’s used. Even though the potential benefits are great compared to relative costs, implementation can’t happen within one organization, and sometimes within one domain. It takes a high level of leadership and willingness to collaborate.

I wrote a blog post about this topic back in May of 2018 calling for the support and participation of industry in the adoption and use of the OASIS EDXL Tracking of Emergency Patients (TEP V1.1) standard. Perhaps that alone is a tall order, and maybe we shouldn’t be pointing only at industry. After all, who drives their priorities? We now have available to us standards that have been endorsed by both emergency and healthcare standards communities and that have been driven by volunteer practitioner time and sweat. That’s a rare thing. If these traditionally stand-alone organizations can act, then it’s time for the victims and families that we all care about to begin to reap the benefits too.

The IJIS Institute fully supports the development and use of open standards like the TEP. IJIS will continue to collaborate with OASIS and HL7 open standards groups along with our Members to promote broader adoption of open standards to facilitate public-sector technology and information sharing mission successes.

If you want to learn more about the TEP standard and how to apply it, please contact me at

Tags:  HL7  OASIS  OASIS EDXL Tracking of Emergency Patients  open standards 

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Data Interoperability Enabling the Future of Emergency Patient Care

Posted By Tim Grapes, Thursday, May 24, 2018

The IJIS Institute and its Member companies recognize the value of widespread adoption of data exchange standards to improve emergency and disaster management. The Emergency Data Exchange Language (EDXL) Suite of standards, published by the Standards Development Organization (SDO) OASIS, enables data sharing in support of multi-jurisdictional emergency support functions. One of these functions is emergency patient care and tracking.

The IJIS Institute is helping the National Association of State EMS Officials (NASEMSO) to advance state, local, and federal adoption of three OASIS data exchange standards. Kevin McGinnis of NASEMSO highlighted the proposed effort as, “addressing a critical flaw in the nation’s efforts to respond quickly and effectively to disasters involving casualties and responders from multiple jurisdictions.” 

Government agencies have their own budget cycles and decision-making; they purchase or build their own emergency and disaster support systems which do not share data. During local and mass casualty incidents, first responder agencies from multiple jurisdictions and disciplines devolve to manual, paper-based, slow, and error-prone processes causing confusion, delays, and added stress for patients, families, and response organizations. 

The good news is that the standards needed to solve this problem are ready. A few years ago, while leading a national Practitioner Steering Group under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, we established the EDXL roadmap, defined the requirements, and participated in the OASIS standardization process. Not only are the standards ready, OASIS and Health Level 7 (HL7) have jointly released them for use between emergency practitioners and care facilities, such as hospitals. 

Testing these data exchanges was successful and the operational benefits have been proven during live, large-scale, multi-jurisdictional patient movement exercises. But a standard isn’t a standard unless it is adopted and used. So why has adoption been sluggish, and what’s new? 

The practitioner group that originally drove standardization has re-energized the effort to support adoption and implementation of real-time emergency patient data exchange through government grant guidance and purchasing practices. The project will demonstrate cost-effective patient tracking, hospital preparedness, family notification and reunification, and enable emergency hospital evacuation through local data exchange development. 

Operationally, it will demonstrate local data exchange running automatically behind the scenes, freeing key resources for more urgent tasks, while improving preparedness and response. It will allow jurisdictions and professions across the entire emergency medical continuum of care to continue daily use of their own locally-operated systems and automatically scale to support mass casualty incidents and events with no additional user training.

These objectives will be accomplished through cross-jurisdiction governance, outreach and education, a third-party standards conformance program, pilots, demonstrations and live patent movement exercises, and transition planning for operational support. Ultimately, our plan creates a repeatable model and standards roadmap that will be endorsed by SAFECOM, and applied to subsequent standards development and adoption priorities such as the OASIS Hospital Availability Exchange (HAVE). This crawl-walk-run approach delivers immediate local value while streamlining subsequent efforts.

The IJIS Institute and NASEMSO call for the support and participation of industry in the adoption and use of the OASIS EDXL Tracking of Emergency Patients (TEP V1.1) standard.

For more information or to get involved in this effort, contact me at


Tags:  EDXL  OASIS  OASIS EDXL Tracking of Emergency Patients  patient tracking  standards 

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