I am delighted to announce that I have been asked to chair the new Welsh Technical Standards Board (WTSB) for NHS Wales. We will support the creation and maintenance of a catalogue of standards and requirements to enable integration and interoperability across all health and care systems in a consistent and secure manner, and to support local innovation and the use of third party delivery partners.

The scope of this Board covers:

  • Integration standards
  • Software development standards
  • Infrastructure standards
  • Cyber security standards

Our responsibilities will be:

  • the identification, assessment and setting of standards and for assuring the application of agreed standards across the national architecture.
  • The ongoing maintenance of the catalogue of standards, including:
  • establishing a road map to support the implementation of agreed standards, including how each standard should be implemented and used
  • periodically assessing agreed standards to ensure they remain relevant and appropriate
  • establishing a road map to support the decommissioning of standards
  • identifying opportunities locally, regionally and nationally to adopt standards providing quick wins, case studies and learning to inform the road map.
  • embedding an interoperability framework within NHS procurement at a local and national level to ensure that procurements are appropriately scored as to their level of interoperability.

Our inaugural meeting will be the 22nd May 2018.

Openness, transparency and public working

One of my ambitions is to make the WTSB open and transparent; to this end, one of our first agenda items is to determine the best way to ensure that our work and the results of our work, are fully open. In addition, can’t we take this approach further? While we can ensure that our work is visible to any member of the public, I aspire to encourage active participation, recognising that we work for many stakeholders. That means not only will our catalogue of standards be publicly available, but the day-to-day working of our group will, by default, be similarly available.

Similarly, our remit is broad and we will need to look to bring in outside expertise as and when required to support different streams of work. With such a broad remit, we will need to break down our goals into smaller chunks via more specialised work groups.

Who do we work for?

In my view, we work for patients, to define standards in an attempt to improve patient care, by supporting the development, testing, evaluation and deployment of valuable healthcare software for citizens in Wales.

However, our immediate audience comprises three core groups:

  1. The NHS Wales Informatics Service (NWIS) who are responsible for delivering “shared for Wales” services underpinning the single patient record.
  2. Health organisations in Wales, who have a statutory responsibility to deliver healthcare to citizens and need to procure or develop local software to meet local needs.
  3. External partners including the third sector and commercial entities in order to permit a digital ecosystem and ensure innovation.

In my view, we should treat these three audiences with the same importance.

My key aim is to foster cooperation and collaboration and encourage the adoption best practices. We should aim to have software code and documentation publicly available, and encourage contributions from stakeholders, from developers, across all interested groups.

Agenda 22nd May 2018

1. Welcome and introductions

2. Terms of reference and discussion of membership

See Document 1,

  • Is it right. Are we missing important people? e.g. What about security input?
  • Is it appropriate to bring in expertise on an ad-hoc basis, particularly when considering working groups?

3. In relation to how the board will function

See Document 2, do you agree that we need:

  • A catalogue of existing system services and functions within the national architecture
  • A corresponding record of the standards used already
  • A roadmap to identify services and functions that would benefit from the adoption of standards
  • To register https://api.wales.nhs.uk with three consumers in mind, NWIS, health boards and third-parties via the digital ecosystem, and as such, encourage open collaboration and trust by sharing documentation publicly?
  • To invite external speakers with specific industry knowledge to inform our working such as
    1. Open source and collaboration experts to talk about openness and transparency, about shared working. (e.g. what can we learn from methods used by open source collaborative groups such as the Apache Software Foundation?)
    2. Experts on best practices for software development methodologies, including agile, DevOps, infrastructure-as-code, production-like test environments
    3. Industry representatives e.g. commercial suppliers, integration and interoperability experts -
  • That we will need five broad categories of interoperability standards, relating to:

    1. Security, staff identity management and logging. We will need to identify expertise in federated security models such as OAUTH2.
    2. Demographics and citizen identity
    3. Diagnostic test standards (e.g. laboratory and radiology standards) relating to the requesting, reporting and viewing of diagnostic testing
    4. Clinical Document standards relating to the creation, storage and transmission of clinical documents
    5. Clinical data standards relating to the recording of structured clinical information such as diagnoses, treatments and procedures as part of the wider logical single patient record.

4. Proposed technical standards for consideration:

  • API specifications for services supporting the storage and retrieval of e-Observations data such as temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, level of consciousness, weight and height.
  • API specifications for services supporting the storage and retrieval of clinical documents and their associated metadata
  • Do you agree that we need to ensure communication with other groups across the UK and Internationally, to ensure that there is harmonisation of technical standards, where possible?

  • If so, to which groups do we already have links and to which groups must we approach to ensure representation for Wales?

6. Any other business?

If you have comments on any of these agenda items, then please contact me. As this will be our inaugural meeting, the best way to feed back your comments is directly to me, at [email protected]