As integration of healthcare and social care sectors becomes an ever-hotter topic, we’re excited to announce that we’ve taken a small but significant step forward: the Human Service Data Specifications are now aligned with the protocols for healthcare provider directory information specified by the Health Level Seven (HL7®) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®).
We designed the Human Service Data Specifications (HSDS)to make it easy to share information about human services of any kind. But given the many nuanced differences across human service sectors – and states and countries and etc – it’s just not feasible to standardize every possible kind of information associated with any kind of service anywhere. So we didn’t try to do that!
Instead, HSDS standardizes the most common information elements that can be expected in virtually any service – which turns out to be a relatively small set of fields, especially when it comes to the core requirements. This ensures that HSDS is relatively practical to adopt; however, at the same time, we do want users to be able to share additional information that is important to their communities even if not specified in the core format. To strike this balance, we’ve encouraged adopters to develop extensions through which they could include information that HSDS does not specify.
Now, with the publication of the new and improved HSDS version 3.0, we’ve gone even farther in enabling users to customize the specification to meet their specific needs, while preserving interoperability across our diverse ecosystem.
HSDS 3.0 supports “Profiles” through which adopters can publish a formalized set of extensions, constraints, and enumerations that together amount to their own tailored version of the standard. Continue reading
UPDATE: As of May 1st 2023, this upgrade is considered official! Thanks to our workgroup and all those in the community who contributed input. Read below for details.
[This post is from Dan Smith, Open Data Services Cooperative‘s Partnerships Lead for Health, Social and Physical Activity Data. Welcome, Dan!]
We are excited to share a proposal for version 3.0 of the Human Service Data Specifications – available now for a final period of review and comment by our community.
We have been working toward this proposal for much of the past year, in a community-led process of gathering input about emerging and outstanding needs across our expanding network of human service informatics. … We are excited to share the fruits of this process with the broader community.
Request for Comment period for HSDS 3.0
This post marks the beginning of a final two-week Request for Comment period. During this time, our community can review and submit any final issues that may need to be addressed before HSDS 3.0 is formally approved by the working group.
We expect version 3.0 to be the last significant HSDS upgrade for a while, so if you have any questions or concerns about its suitability for your current or future potential use of HSDS, please raise them now.
How to provide feedback on HSDS 3.0
As Open Referral’s network grows – involving more stakeholders in the development of interoperable resource directory information supply chains – our tools and practices must evolve in kind to support more complex needs.
So we are excited to share that Open Referral has initiated a new development cycle to upgrade the Human Service Data Specifications. This cycle has kicked off with a specific objective to address a significant issue: our specifications need to be adapted across diverse contexts, to support different conventions in different places, while preserving a core of interoperability across our ecosystem.
To support this workgroup’s efforts, we are seeking feedback from a broad array of stakeholders across our network. For instance, this Friday (July 22nd) from 11a-1p, we will host an open “fishbowl” discussion in which workgroup members will review proposals line-by-line, at which any members of our community are welcome to observe and discuss by chat – invitations available by request. We encourage interested parties to comment on the documents above, or discuss in our issues queue on Github, or reach out directly via [email protected]
Last year – with sponsorship from Robert Wood Johnson Foundations’ DASH program, and in partnership with the Regional Data Alliance at University of Missouri St Louis – I co-authored a whitepaper that aggregated research and recommendations from across the emerging field of “social care coordination.”
This paper provides a strategic framework in which to understand Open Referral’s work in the context of human service directory data infrastructure and governance, and it also offers a broader view of the related but very different challenges of sharing information about people through coordination among service providers.
The whitepaper is available in PDF here – as well as in this ‘live’ version upon which we invite readers to share feedback. Having received significant positive feedback from experts in the field of healthcare informatics, I’m excited to share it here with the Open Referral community.
Despite the vast amounts of information on the Web, finding reliable information about legal services through internet searches is harder than many expect. Basic searches — for needs like assistance with evictions, help with public benefits, or protection from domestic violence — often turn bewildering as results on Google, among other search engines, typically seem unhelpful and untrustworthy.
Every U.S. state has legal aid organizations to help people who can’t afford private law firms. But these organizations rarely have the capacity to specialize in Search Engine Optimization that can compete with private firms and even scammy operations that tend to dominate search results.
Search results don’t have to be as hit-or-miss as they are today. One promising method of improving search results is by adding specialized tags – i.e. “web markup” – to legal aid websites that help web engines better identify and index their information.
Schema.org – which represents a coalition of the major web platforms – produces such web markup for smarter search results. With schema.org’s standardized vocabulary, websites can ‘mark up’ otherwise unstructured text into structured data that can be semantically ‘understood’ by search engines.
When Open Referral first began, we worked in collaboration with the team that developed the first version of the ‘Civic Services schema’ at schema.org. We were particularly motivated by their vision of a future in which anyone could use colloquial language in their searches and easily get reliable, richly detailed results. Finally, through partnership with legal aid providers in Florida and around the country, we now have our first glimpse of that future. Continue reading
Welcome back to our blog Mike Thacker of Porism Limited. Porism is a technical partner of the Local Government Association (LGA), a membership organisation of English local authorities which owns the Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IDeA). Porism also works with iStandUK, a local government standards body that promotes efficiency, transformation, and transparency of local public services in the UK.
On March 16th 2022 the UK Government Data Standards Authority Steering Board formally endorsed Open Referral UK (ORUK).
Endorsement means that UK central government departments should apply the standard in future for interchanging open data describing services. Though this does not amount to a mandate for use of the standard by local governments and “arms-length bodies” such as the National Health Service (NHS), it does build upon the Local Government Association’s early adoption as reported here in 2019 – and the NHS has already established requirements in its Health Systems Support Framework that Social Prescribing systems must (after a grace period allowed for adoption) be able to read from Open Referral UK compliant data feeds. These developments build upon a significant uptake of adoption in our sector among initiatives like LOOP, and encourage further alignment among related institutions.
Often people ask how we enable care providers to actually refer their clients to another service. The answer is, well, Open Referral doesn’t actually deal with the process of “making a referral” at all!
We’re working to ensure that there’s open access to information about the services to which someone might be referred.
But the challenges related to actually sending a person’s information from one provider’s system to another? That’s a whole other tangle of knots. I’ve long hoped that someone somewhere would work on those problems, while believing it should remain outside Open Referral’s scope.
So I’m excited to see that this work is now under way.
The Gravity Project is like kin to the Open Referral Initiative: Gravity is a community of practice that is developing and testing consensus-based open standards to facilitate capture and exchange of data pertaining to people and their social circumstances across a variety of healthcare and social service systems.