The Practical Guide to SOA in Healthcare -- Version 1.0

Across the globe, healthcare organisations are increasingly making IT investments to improve their operations, efficiency, more effectively manage costs, and improve their operational capabilities. IT shops can be hampered in their efforts to evolve due to extensive existing investments in hardware, software, and medical devices that they must continue to support, while coming under increasing pressure to modernise systems. The need to Practical_Guide_Covershot.jpgchange is pushed by technologies are constantly evolving. IT planning processes are also complicated by “industry recommended practices” that are hyped by the technology journals.

One such area receiving significant amounts of this hype is service-oriented architecture (SOA). In a nutshell, SOA provides an approach for business transformation based on dividing complex environments into well defined, formally specified functions based on the activities they perform (services). Each service has well defined responsibilities and authority. These services then work together in collaboration to support the workflow of the business, all within the context of governance and oversight that manages their coordination and performance. It is being touted as everything from “the next silver bullet” to a technology platform to an enterprise change management strategy.

The work has been conducted in three complementary volumes, introduced from the table below. More detailed descriptions of each of the volumes follows:

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Vol I
Overview. Takes the point-of-view of a clinical institution trying to modernize
using a SOA infrastructure. Intended for senior leaders and those seeking to understand
SOA and its implications. (All Audiences, ~50 pages)
Volume I English Edition --

Volume I Japanese Edition --

Vol II
Immunization Case Study. Using an immunzation case study as a backdrop, this volume
exercises the SOA architecture in the context of the HL7 Services-Aware Interoperability
Framework (SAIF), The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF), and the HL7 EHR
Functional Model Standard. (Technically Oriented, ~140 pages)

SAIF Executive Summary. The Services-Aware Interoperability Framework was established
to allow for classification and comparability of multiple IT and information assets within an
organization to be assessed and their interrelationships better understood. This volume
demonstrates how this techique and approach can be used to create intra- and inter-organisational
interoperability guides. (Program Leadership, ~25 pages)

Volume I: Overview and Primer Document

The Practical Guide to SOA in Healthcare was developed to provide guidance to those individuals with interest in SOA. Intended as a informative reference, the Practical Guide presents an approach for SOA-enabling an organization, using the fictituous SampleHealth as the basis for the discussion. The guide addresses the use of industry-standard SOA standards, SOA-enablement of commercial and legacy applications, and enterprise architecture planning to refactor business lines into horizontal service components.

Volume II: Immunization Management Case Study

The Practical Guide for SOA in Healthcare Volume II presents a case study, which adds an Immunization Management Capability (IMC) to Volume I’s SampleHealth’s Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). We used the TOGAF Architecture Development Method (ADM) and HL7 Service Aware Interoperability Framework (SAIF) Enterprise Conformance and Compliance Framework (ECCF). Volume II demonstrates the use of HL7’s EHR System Design Reference Model (EHR-SD RM) linked artifacts (e.g., EHR System Functional Model, FHIM, HITSP, HITEC, HSSP, IHE, NIEM, etc) to provide an initial architectural baseline suitable for an EHR related SOA acquisition, development or certification project. We conclude with lessons learned, such as:
  • The TOGAF ADM is a rigorous process, which efficiently led us to produce a set of clear, complete, concise, correct and consistent interoperability specifications and conformance statements.
  • The SAIF-ECCF is an architectural “Executive Summary;” we used it to present the IMC exchange architecture, interoperability specifications and conformance statements in an easy-to-use structure.
  • Other architecture development methods or other architectural frameworks, such as the Rational Unified Process, the Zachman or the DOD Architectural Framework can complement and benefit-from HL7’s EHR-SD-RM and SAIF-ECCF to build and present an architectural executive-summary.

Volume III: SAIF Executive Summary and Implementation Guide

HL7's SAIF Executive Summary and Implementation Guide presents The Service-Aware Interoperability Framework (SAIF), which focuses on specifying artifacts that explicitly express the characteristics of software components that affect interoperability. SAIF organizes and manages architectural complexity with a set of constructs, best practices, processes, procedures and categorizations. SAIF’s scope is the interoperability space between system components. Specifically, SAIF manages the inter-working among distributed systems that may involve information exchanges or service interactions and state changes; SAIF is not Enterprise Architecture . SAIF’s goal is to create and manage easy-to-use, traceable, consistent and coherent Interoperability Specifications (ISs) regardless of the message, document or service interoperability-paradigm. SAIF combines four sub-frameworks, that together form a basis for defining comparable interoperability specifications (Information and Behavioral Frameworks) and formalizing governance and conformity assessment methods (Governance and Enterprise Conformance and Compliance Frameworks) critical to defining and using interoperability specifications.

HL7 specified the core components of the “canonical version” of a Service-Aware Interoperability Framework (SAIF). Any organization choosing to implement SAIF should assemble its own Implementation Guide (IG). The IG contains the organization's interpretation and localization of the canonical constructs defined in the HL7 SAIF. In this document, we discuss how to construct an organization’s SAIF IG or include SAIF in an organization’s Enterprise Architecture IG. The SAIF portion of the IG should document specific architectural practices and products which will be used to develop interoperability specifications.

For those involved in developing the Practical Guide, the work-in-progress page is accessible Volume I here and Volume II & III here.