Co-Chair, Amir Mehrkar, to Take on New Challenge at NHS Digital

Amir Mehrkar, Clinical Co-Chair of the INTEROPen Board, has been invited to step into a new role as Chief Medical Officer for NHS Digital. Discussion of next steps and nominations for a new Co-Chair will take place at the next meeting of the INTEROPen Board on 28 March.

Amir has been leading the INTEROPen community alongside Co-Chair, Luke Readman, for over three years and his energy, determination and ability to raise a smile while pushing people out of our comfort zones will be dearly missed. Often to be seen donning pink socks and a t-shirt from our unforgettable INTEROP SUMMIT (or even a Robin Hood cap), Amir has lived the spirit of INTEROPen principles of openness and transparency since its inception.

We are very excited to see the developments that can be achieved as we look to a future with a new Co-Chair and greater focus on giving a voice to the vendor members of our community – with a firm ally at the helm of NHS Digital and an even greater emphasis on delivering interoperability across health and social care.

Below is the letter announcing this news from INTEROPen Co-Chairs, Luke and Amir:

Dear Members of INTEROPen,

After three incredible years working together as co-chairs of the INTEROPen Board, change is afoot and, as of April 2019, Amir Mehrkar will be stepping down as clinical co-chair of the community to take on a new challenge as Chief Medical Officer at NHS Digital.

Last Friday, Amir received an invitation from Sarah Wilkinson, NHS Digital’s CEO, to step up ad interim to NHS Digital’s Chief Medical Officer role and support her in leading the NHS Digital Clinical Strategy Review and work with partners to develop the relationship and functions needed to support the Long Term Plan.

Impressed by Sarah’s vision and genuine desire to foster new thinking and an approach to service-led and co-produced innovation, Amir has accepted her challenge.

In Amir’s words, “This decision is harder for me than many may realise but it has been eased by the messages of support from board colleagues. And together we feel this also provides an opportunity for INTEROPen. It will be very difficult for me to let go, however, I feel that the Board and the community have everything in their grasp to see through the next stage of the journey. I will still be there to champion INTEROPen’s culture and approach; after all interoperability has always been part of my DNA.”

In the last 3 weeks, working with members of the board including David Hancock, teckUK Representative, we feel 2019 is also the year INTEROPen must step up to become more self-sustaining and truly supported by our vendor members.

It is with vendors that much of the FHIR profiling work is completed and it is through vendors that standards are implemented into the service. Vendors who have joined INTEROPen are signaling that commitment to making this successful. We feel now is the time, with agreement from the Board and INTEROPen members, to take INTEROPen to the next stage on its journey with even more leadership and drive from our vendor members.

Bringing together our community of over 1000 members, including more than 200 vendor organisations, ALB partners (NHS Digital, NHS England, PRSB), care providers and care professionals, the focus of 2019 must be on implementation [see Appendix B]. As such, we are pleased to announce our first implementation project which is led by the OneLondon LHCRE, co-produced by INTEROPen, and facilitated by NHSD and NHSE.

The OneLondon project provides a great opportunity to build on the achievements of 2018 and accelerate interoperability into the service by testing out our end-to-end methodology.

We are incredibly proud of INTEROPen. The community, which was started by 8 vendors just three years ago, has grown so quickly and is recognised for its collaborative approach to developing interoperability standards.

You, our members, have made this possible and we look forward to collaborating with you even more closely as we continue to support and live by the “Robin Hood Principle of Information Sharing”.

Amir Mehrkar and Luke Readman
Co-Chairs of the INTEROPen Board

Below are comments from the Board received so far:

“INTEROPen has demonstrated great value already through the creation of clinically validated interoperability standards. Uniquely, it recognises that we cannot drive adoption of these standards without the necessary pull from the service and the push from the suppliers. I believe that this opportunity for change, with suppliers providing more leadership can be the catalyst to drive adoption more quickly across Health and Social Care .”
David Hancock, techUK Representative

“Absolutely thrilled that NHSD have managed to land Amir. He’s a real big fish. Seriously though I am sure they will benefit massively from his knowledge, determination, energy and spirit of fair play that runs through everything he does. Very pleased for him.”
Adrian Bryne, CIO Network Representative

“Absolutely delighted for Amir. His energy, enthusiasm and open inclusive approach have created an INTEROpen family spanning public & private sectors, national & local organisations and attracted the attention and admiration from around the globe. Pleased this has been recognised by NHS Digital and look forward to work with him in his new role.”
Andy Kinnear, BCS Representative

Our Partner, Digital Health has also covered the story here

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