Emis Health has announced an update to its Emis Web clinical system that will allow it to interoperate with any third party supplier conforming to a published set of open application interfaces.

Initially, third party systems will be able to obtain real time primary care patient information “subject to tight information governance controls.”

But down the line the company argues that the move will create a “solid foundation” for the creation of “innovative, interoperable services.”

Emis Group’s chief medical officer, Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, said in a statement: “For the past 13 years, we have run a highly successful partner programme using our own API to enable integration with third party systems.

“We are now taking that commitment to a new level, using best practice standards adopted by the wider healthcare IT industry as the basis on which we will open up access to our systems for any supplier within the NHS and social care, including NHS trusts.”

Third parties that want to take advantage of the new arrangement will need to be using a number of industry and NHS standards.

These include the interoperability standard FHIR, the health service terminology set SNOMED-CT, and the requirements laid out in the NHS Data Model and Dictionary.

Emis Health told Digital Health News that the standards are based on the draft NHS Code4Health standards, and the company is in the process of creating a web site to make them accessible.

In the meantime, they can be obtained from the company's Partner Program.

Emis Health’s move is in line with government attempts to get suppliers to use standards and to open up their APIs; both of which are core elements of the Government ICT strategy.

In health, the latest version of the GP Systems of Choice contract, which gives primary care services access to IT systems, required suppliers to open up their APIs; and Beverley Bryant, NHS England’s director of digital technology, has indicated that she wants all NHS suppliers to move in the same direction.

This would support the government’s ambitions to create a ‘paperless’ NHS, to drive integration between health and social care services, and to get more members of the public using innovative online services and apps to monitor their health and access treatment services.

Interoperability has also been a focus for supplier and pressure groups, with techUK issuing an interoperability charter to which Emis is already a signatory alongside many other companies, and the CCIO Network issuing the 'Newcastle Declaration' calling for radical change to support joined up health and social care.

O’Hanlon said: “This demonstrates our absolute dedication to freeing up movement of vital patient information within the NHS to enable more joined-up and informed care.

“It also supports NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens’ determination to make technology an enabler, not a barrier, to new ways of organising clinical care.”

Emis Health’s announcement was made at its inaugural integrated customer conference.