Project Unify Core Team

Dave Walsh

Project Lead
LGT Group moderator
Dave Walsh

Project Co-Lead, 
Story, Ontology, Health, Human Services Server (HSLynk), Privacy & Confidentiality, and NIEM
Brian D. Handspicker

Project Co-Lead, 
Human Services Server (HSLynk), and Ontology
Eric Jahn


Project Unify: A Proof of Concept for Data Sharing and Person Matching

Project Unify is a proof-of-concept implementation designed to advance interoperability between the health and human services domains, each of which currently uses a different standard (FHIR and NIEM, respectively). Ultimately, the combination of health and human services data will facilitate a more comprehensive and complete view of individuals. This holistic view will, in turn, facilitate the collaboration of health and human services programs, to more effectively address those individuals’ needs. We also plan to incorporate other NIEM domains, such as the court system, into our proof of concept. 


The healthcare community is making substantial investments in interoperability and data-sharing, generally by using a standard known as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources. FHIR-based solutions are already being applied, and many trial implementations are available. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to publish a final rule for the healthcare community in the next few months to help vendors understand how best to architect new systems using FHIR. Project Unify aims to leverage and reuse healthcare’s learning to achieve similarly secure interoperability in human services and related domains.  

The Concept

Project Unify seeks to demonstrate that health and human services systems can discover common patients/clients, and exchange data with each other using existing standard protocols. Our intent is to demonstrate that accomplishing this goal is possible and, as a result, provide an open source means for replication and utilization by others to create their own  interoperable apps and services, with a low barrier to entry.

As a result of this work, developers should be able to concentrate on adding value to the data rather than getting lost in the details; for instance, innovators will be able to focus on utilizing consistent, easily accessible data for advanced technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence. 


Project Unify seeks to demonstrate that health, human services, education, and justice information systems can:

  • Discover common patients/clients.
  • Map and model data based on domain-specific data model and element definition standards (e.g., FHIR, NIEM, CEDS/EdFi/PESC, etc.).
  • Exchange data among systems using source or target domain-specific standard protocols.
  • Define content based on domain-specific standard vocabularies (e.g., LOINC, ICD-10, etc.).
  • Implement exchanges based on HIPAA/FERPA/ well as security best practices (e.g., SMART, OpenID, OAuth2, etc.).
  • Support HIPAA/FERPA/etc. privacy and authorization best practices (e.g., WebShield, EP3 Proof of Trust, etc.).

Who is Participating in Project Unify

The project is being conducted by the Let’s Get Technical (LGT) group of the National Interoperability Collaborative (NIC), the MITA Technical Architecture Committee (MITA-TAC), and additional partners who are contributing in a variety of ways to further this potentially transformative work.

Initial/Next Steps

Project Unify will endeavor to release all newly produced code and documentation artifacts with an open source license. Wherever existing system and code reuse is possible, open-source components are preferred. Project Unity's components will include:

  • An initial FHIR (healthcare) server and repository from the Michigan Health Information Network (MIHiN). 
  • An open-source human services server named HSLynk, which can serve NIEM human services data.
  • A cross-domain person-matching capability. The intent is to address issues, concerns and requirements being identified by the LGT person-matching workgroup. 
  • Use-case development. NIC and MITA-TAC have drafted a use case to contextualize,  frame and humanize Project Unify's proof of concept implementation.  
  • A User eXperience (UX) framework. This user-facing development framework will take a mobile-first approach for developing apps that use the other services.

A more detailed, technical description of the project will be posted soon.  We will welcome comments, questions and suggestions. 

How Do I Join?

We are seeking technical and subject-matter experts, developers, documenters and testers, along with anyone who just wants to follow along, to provide input and gain a better understanding of how to provide interoperable, cloud-based solutions relevant to Project Unify. Please contact Dave Walsh if you have any questions or want to volunteer for this effort.


  • Presentation on the "From Indiana to the National Accelerators: COVID-19 and Interoperability for a Better Path Forward" webinar on May 1, 2020 at noon ET.
  • Presentation hosted by NIC titled, "Project Unify: Advancing Progress on Building Cross Domain Interoperability Across Health and Human Services" on May 22 at noon ET.
  • Presentation hosted by NIC titled, "Geek Out with Project Unify: A Deeper Dive Technical Session on NIC’s Proof of Concept Project" on May 29 at noon ET.
  • Participation in the virtual MiHIN InterOpathon on May 28 & 29, 2020.
  • Presentation hosted by NIC titled, "Project Unify (Part 3): Report from the InterOpathon and Next Steps" on June 5 at noon ET.
  • Participation at the Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI) symposium in January 2021.


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  • We continually are updating and refining the POC.  You can find a draft charter and a variety of use cases that are being developed for the POC.  Let us know what you think.   

    Project Unify Charter
    Project Unify Charter Mission: Project Unify is a proof-of-concept implementation designed to advance interoperability between the health and human…
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