Model-Driven Health Tools (MDHT): Creating Interoperability Models and Infrastructure for the Health and Health IT Community

Dr. Doug Fridsma | April 20, 2012

Imagine if you had a cell phone from a particular carrier that could only call other phones serviced by that carrier. A system such as that would limit the sharing of information and communication among all members in the cell phone community. The current wireless infrastructure allows cell phones to exchange data, text messages, emails, and phone calls across all networks—obviously the best way to facilitate effective communication.

But the same universality doesn’t necessarily exist in the world of health care information technology. A lack of standards and interoperability can create communication and information sharing that is stove-piped, ineffective, duplicative, incomplete—the opposite of the vision of streamlined, effective information sharing that health care information technology (health IT) is meant to facilitate.

Development of Model-Driven Health Tools

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology  (ONC) recognized the need to find a workable model to improve interoperability. The answer: the development of the Model-Driven Health Tools (MDHT). MDHT started within the open source, health, and health IT community. The Office of Standards and Interoperability at ONC adopted MDHT into its S&I Framework to create the benchmarks, services, and tools to support standardization.

This initiative establishes a modeling framework and infrastructure to help drive the development of seamless national health IT standards for open communication, model sharing, and standard development within the health and health IT community. The model had to be user-friendly, open to feedback, flexible, and current. MDHT currently has a growing user-based community from the public and private sectors.

Goals of the MDHT Project

The main goals of the MDHT project are to provide:

  • A wide-ranging, open-source effort to promote interoperability in health care infrastructure;
  • Shared artifacts between related health care standards and standards development organizations;
  • Localized specifications; and
  • A common modeling framework and tools that support seamless integration of design, publication, and runtime artifact creation.

MDHT leverages models of existing standards to produce integrated and accessible guides along with actual working and tested software. This approach replaces the current industry practice, which requires each participating organization to interpret the standard and independently develop its own standards. This consistency and commonality result in lowered development costs and fewer hurdles in establishing standards—problems that have previously prevented organizations from participating in electronic health information exchanges.


Benefits of MDHT

Benefits of MDHT include, but are not limited to:

  • Java implementation API for the models;
  • Automated generation of validation tools;
  • Automated publication of Implementation Guides;
  • Reduction in development cost and time by providing clear documentation with supporting implementation resources; and
  • Reuse of existing templates to republish Implementation Guides for future initiatives.

Additionally, MDHT supports a full lifecycle standards development process, providing a solution that allows standards designers and implementers to actively collaborate. The agile process enables the designers to quickly validate all aspects of the standards rules as practical and feasible before they become normative standards. These new standards are breaking down silos between health IT professionals, health care providers, and doctors. Improved communication and interchange mean better, more effective information, which ultimately creates a better environment for all patients.


For More Information

For more information about MDHT or to get involved, visit Exit Disclaimer

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