Reference Architecture SIG

Market Needs

A common technical framework for interoperable digital health and care ecosystems, allowing the various stakeholders to develop systems, APIs, etc., once, and to interconnect their systems according to business requirements with as few technical barriers as possible.

Reference Architecture


Scope of SIG

Review existing DHACA Reference Architecture, and modify as required to provide technical underpinning for DHACA Ecosystem Models (as described in EBM profile). Develop architecture further, both in scope (if necessary) and in technical detail.


Nigel Dallard (

Nigel Dallard



  • Non-proprietary platform for health and social care
  • Not (just) a centralised NHS model
  • Open architecture
  • Vendor investment


The current stated objective of the SIG:

To develop a model technical architecture, based on open APIs, that supports the dhaca economic & business models, and allows health and care providers to engage digitally with patients/service users, their informal care networks, and the general public.

It was emphasised that the focus was on the interaction/engagement between the citizen/patient/service user/informal carer and the care providers, especially the NHS and social care, rather than on the internal IT systems with individual NHS organisations or communications between such organisations.


You can download the DHACA profile document on Reference Architecture referenced in the slides here.

The slides also refer to:

Top-level architecture, based on open APIs, that NHS England/HSCIC were last year proposing for the updated NHS Choices, and how the (then dallas, now DHACA) architecture could meet and go beyond what they were suggesting –  see also:

  • a response that ADI made to NHS England on behalf of the dallas i-focus project that initiated the subsequent (now stalled) engagement that we had with the NHS Choices team; and
  • Business models that the technical architecture is supposed to support – the DHACA profile paper describing these is available for download here.

A question was posed as to whether a single model technical architecture was either desirable or achievable?

The consensus was that the best way forward was to enumerate the various options for protocols/APIs at all levels of the interface, and to gather a critical mass of stakeholders to review the options to see what level of consensus could be readily achieved, and what would require further work. The stakeholders mentioned during the discussion were:

  • Existing SIG members
  • NHS England
  • Informatics folks from AHSNs
  • IT folks from primary/community/secondary care providers
  • IT folks from CCGs
  • Representatives/proponents of (traditional) HL7, FHIR, IHE, Continua
  • Health Alliance
  • Vendors of primary and secondary care IT systems
  • Representatives of the ADASS Information Management Group

If anyone has any comments/feedback/suggestions, please contact the SIG Champion (or comment below).

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