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Heather Grain

Our birthday Standards Heroes have been nominated by their peers to represent all our contributors - individuals we consider to be the real heroes of standards, in Australia and internationally. We thank those who contribute their knowledge and expertise, service, and time to Standards Australia for the benefit of the Australian community.  

Heather Grain Chairs a number of Standard committees, including health informatics, traditional Chinese medicine and information governance.

How did you become involved in standards development? 

Originally as a consultant working in health data, but then as a consumer representative. I realised I could represent the interests of consumers and use my technical skills through understanding of the details of the topic domain. This seemed a way to contribute to improvements.

What role have standards played in your career?   

Member of committees (four at the moment), Chair of IT14 - Health Informatics, Chair of IT14/2 subcommittee while it existed, Convenor of ISO TC215 working group on semantic content, Chair of HE031 - Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chair of ISO TC215 AHG on Information Governance, Chair of TC249 AHG on Terminology, Member of Australian Delegations to ISO TC215 and ISO TC249 for many years. .

What is a project you’ve been particularly proud to have helped deliver? 

Australian Standards on identification of individuals and providers in healthcare (where identity can be challenging with requirements far beyond that required for business identification management), ISO 21564 Terminology Resource Map Quality Measures (MapQual) to identify the requirements for safe transition of data from one code system to another in clinical use.  There are others but these two are particularly important as they relate to patient safety.

Development of the Standards Knowledge Management Tool - used to coordinate standards terms and definitions and provide information about what standards exist in the area of health informatics - a tool used by all major health informatics standards developer organisations via the Joint Initiative Council of Standards Development Organisations.    

Outside of standards development, what have been some highlights of your career? 

Development of the workforce capacity statements for the health informatics profession in Australia, assisting Brazil and Jamaica in the development of a standards-based approach to electronic health records and data design using open EHR and SNOMED CT.

What do you think the future of standardisation looks like? 

From a healthcare perspective, standards need to be more coordinated through the patient care pathways and the data supply chain, disparate organisational approaches are not efficient nor always safe.  Collaboration between different standards bodies is essential as solutions are not just technical, they are workforce, workflow and multidimensional and cannot be imposed from above or filter up from below but coordinated throughout industry.

Is there anything you’d like to say or mention about Standards Australia’s centenary year?

Standards Australia has been a point of collaboration and coordination which can help us move to a more strategic and safe future which is built on the past but focused on the future.