In the Kanta Services, data travels through several different systems. How do you ensure smooth cooperation between various operators?
Kanta Services are produced in cooperation with various operators, which include national actors such as Kela, the National Institute for Health and Welfare, the Population Register Centre, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, SOTE operators, pharmacies, and the suppliers of information systems to be connected to Kanta.
In Finland, there are several different patient and client data systems in use. SOTE operators and pharmacies decide for themselves which information system they use in their units, and therefore many different system suppliers are involved in the Kanta Services. However, all information systems joining Kanta must have Kanta certification.
“The precondition for an information system is that it has been certified separately for each specific Kanta Service. The main task of the system supplier is to produce for end users a system that serves the professionals in their work, is Kanta-compatible and contains up-to-date citizen’s health data regardless of the healthcare unit the citizen has visited,” says Eeva Huotarinen, Development Manager of Kanta Services.
Smooth cooperation through regular communication
Development of the Kanta Services is a work in progress. When a new feature or functionality is introduced in Kanta, it is defined, tested and implemented in the Kanta Services. The objective is to also make the changes in the patient or client data systems almost simultaneously. New features are tested with the Kanta client test service, and the development schedules of largest functionalities are included in the publication plan.
National development work is carried out in collaboration by the above-mentioned actors. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is tasked with the strategic guidance of Kanta Services, and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is in charge of operational guidance, requirements and business specifications. Kela, on the other hand, implements and maintains the national services and is responsible for the compatibility testing service.
“Kela’s main task is to build the Kanta Services and to verify that the services are functioning effectively in all situations. We make sure that the system suppliers join the development process at a sufficiently early stage and that they are kept up to date. THL plays a significant role in ensuring that the client organisations have the new functionalities available in their systems in order to maintain their Kanta-compatibility and produce information into the Kanta archive according to the latest specifications,” Huotarinen explains.
The Kanta.fi website is important in terms of communication between various actors. The requirements specifications are published on the website, which also contains information about the functionalities and provides details about testing to the information system suppliers. Communication is also active in other channels, and the Kanta Services have regular annual meetings with the system suppliers. Currently, the meetings are usually conducted by Skype.
The development of Kanta Services requires flexible cooperation of all those involved in the system. The introduction of new services or functionalities requires a major effort to make them the best possible services for end users – professionals and citizens.
“The system suppliers are invited to the joint meeting six times a year. The invitation is sent to the distribution list, on which all system suppliers carrying on development work with Kanta have been able to register. Requests to be added to the distribution list arrive here by email, but in future we would prefer that the suppliers maintain their own details themselves. In addition to joint meetings, we invite individual system suppliers to so-called supplier-specific discussions to get a more detailed picture of the progress of their system development,” says Huotarinen.
How can the cooperation be developed further?
The development of Kanta Services requires flexible cooperation of all those involved in the system. The introduction of new services or functionalities requires a major effort to make them the best possible services for end users – professionals and citizens. According to Huotarinen, the aim is to get even closer to the needs of end users.
“National models for information systems aim to be generic in order to suit all of the different systems. However, we should promote their implementation in cooperation with the end user in order to ensure that the end result will serve each profession in a more individually tailored way. The objective is to increase the involvement of SOTE operators and system suppliers already in the planning stage when the requirements specifications are drawn up.”
The system suppliers describe cooperation with the Kanta Services as smooth, although they do have some development ideas. Tieto’s Area Product Owner Sinikka Hurskainen and Senior Relationship Manager Kimmo Rissanen of MediConsult, who have cooperated with the Kanta Services for several years, tell about this cooperation.
“Communication has been very uncomplicated, and we are being listened to. When changes or completely new applications are introduced in information systems, the cooperation must be flexible, swift and open. Of course, we understand that making changes to the requirements specifications is a slow process as everything must be synchronised across a number of different systems. It would be good to involve more system suppliers in putting the requirements specifications into practice in tandem with Kela and THL. It would also be great to have a common performance test environment in the future,” says Sinikka Hurskainen.
“Cooperation has been very smooth over the years. Compared with the early stages, all actors have learned a lot, and we are now better at speaking the same language. Of course, our points of view are different in many respects, which is also an asset. We find that our opinions are valued on an equal level. All actors have their own priorities and approaches. It must be a challenging situation for Kela when different actors make progress in a different order, even when a great effort has been made to achieve a common timetable. At times, a necessary piece of information is not always available when it is needed, and this may cause some delays. However, potentially difficult cooperation has worked very well as a whole,” Kimmo Rissanen sums up.