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Version: Platform (v1)


This section assumes you are familiar with the OpenHIE specification–a reference framework that makes sharing health data across information systems possible through a Health Information Exchange (“HIE”). To learn more, check out OpenHIE docs and community.

OpenFn Lightning and OpenHIE

OpenFn Lightning is an OpenHIE-compliant workflow engine used to (1) automate complex business processes that cut across digital systems (including OpenHIE components and point of care systems), and to (2) handle data mapping and transformation.

If your organization is implementing the OpenHIE standard architecture, then OpenFn provides a workflow engine that interfaces with your interoperability later component (“IOL”). OpenFn can be implemented to automate:

  • Workflows between point of service systems;
  • Workflows between across core HIE components;
  • Data transformation steps required to prepare data before routing it to other HIE components via the IOL. (Note that OpenFn workflows serve as a web-UI-accessible and manageable alternative to OpenHIM “mediators”.)

OpenFn supports the functional requirements of the OpenHIE IOL, therefore some organizations also use OpenFn as their central interoperability layer. That said, please note that OpenFn cannot yet be used as a fully OpenHIE-compliant interoperability layer because it does not leverage the IHE ATNA profile (see requirement IOL-WF1).


For an overview of OpenFn Lightning and how it fits into OpenHIE, see our introduction for the OpenHIE showcase or read on for more context.


The Interoperability layer (IOL):

  • Sits between the OpenHIE components and point-of-care systems
  • Serves as a single point of entry and secure gateway to the OpenHIE
  • Complies with requirements around transaction routing and auditing

OpenFn Lightning satisfies the functional requirements of the IOL, but is not fully OpenHIE-compliant since it does not yet leverage the IHE ATNA profile

The workflow engine:

  • Provides out-of-box interfaces to connect to point of care systems
  • Handles complex data mapping and transformation to reformat data for receipt by a destination system (e.g., map data from point of care system to the data model of a OpenHIE component, and/or map non-FHIR data to FHIR profiles)
  • Routes data to the interoperability layer
  • Can keep track of the long running state of a patient's care and perform actions based on this context (such as sending alerts) to improve patient care.

OpenFn Lightning is an OpenHIE-compliant workflow engine

Case study: Using OpenFn to quickly deliver a new OpenHIM mediator in Nigeria

In Nigeria, as part of the ALMANACH project, SwissTPH used OpenFn to automate data mapping and exchange between CommCare and DHIS2 for disease surveillance. The workflow ran on OpenFn’s cloud for several years and in preparation for handover and scaling-up, the team at SwissTPH then prepared a deep integration with OpenHIM for local deployment.

SwissTPH took their existing OpenFn workflow and built it into their OpenHIM instance as a “mediator”, ensuring all data is routed via this IOL while still leveraging OpenFn’s out-of-box DHIS2 adaptor and reusable workflow templates to quickly develop automation that reformats data received from CommCare and maps it to the DHIS2 data model.