- 1 IHE: Changing the Way Healthcare Connects
- 1.1 Engaging HIT Stakeholders in a Proven Process
- 1.2 Domain Committees: Meeting Critical Interoperability Needs
- 1.3 Integration and Content Profiles: A Framework for Interoperability
- 1.4 Connectathons: Testing Interoperability and Conformance
- 1.5 Product Registry and User Handbooks: Advice for Purchasers and Implementers
- 1.6 Supporting Health Information Networks Worldwide
IHE: Changing the Way Healthcare Connects
What is IHE?
Optimal patient care requires efficient, secure access to comprehensive electronic health records (EHRs). Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) accelerates the adoption of EHRs by improving communication among healthcare information systems. Its goal is to improve the quality, efficiency and safety of clinical care by making relevant health information conveniently accessible to patients and authorized care providers.
<Kevin: The above text primarily focuses on IHE as an EHR project and overlooks work on integrating workflow in Radiology, Cardiology, Lab, Radiation Oncology and Eyecare. That may be OK for this brochure since EHRs have more buzz this year than workflow>
Engaging HIT Stakeholders in a Proven Process
IHE brings together users and developers of healthcare information technology (HIT)--domain experts from many different areas of care. They engage in an annual four-step process:
- Clinical and technical experts define critical use cases for information sharing.
- Technical experts create detailed specifications for communication among systems to address these use cases, selecting and optimizing established standards.
- Industry implements these specifications--called IHE Profiles--in HIT systems.
- IHE tests these systems at carefully planned and supervised events called Connectathons.
IHE publishes the results of Connectathon testing and enables vendors to publish simple documents--called IHE Integration Statements--about the IHE capabilities of their commercial HIT products. This information is organized in an easily accessible form in the IHE Product Registry, available online at http://www.ihe.net/registry/.
IHE also organizes demonstrations of IHE-compliant systems working in real-world clinical scenarios at medical meetings and other venues. The IHE Global Standards Adoption process has been approved by ISO as TR28380.
INSERT REVISED PROCESS DIAGRAM
Alternative Process Diagram
<Kevin: Since it's a process, I think it is helpful if there is a visible flow. Arrows going in various directions without a clear starting point can be confusing. The proposed alternative diagram tries to go left to right, and shows three rows for what things users do, what IHE does and what vendors do. It's from a couple years ago so it is missing the registry and it doesn't call out the sponsors separately from IHE but improvements are always welcome.>
Domain Committees: Meeting Critical Interoperability Needs
IHE committees follow the above annual process to address interoperability in a variety of clinical domains:
- Anatomic Pathology
- Eye Care
- IT Infrastructure
- Patient Care Coordination
- Patient Care Devices
- Quality, Research and Public Health
- Radiation Oncology
IHE invites clinical and technical domain experts to become leaders in this work. Find out more about participating directly in IHE domain committees or the annual Public Comment reviews at http://www.ihe.net/domains/ or by contacting the domain secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More than 200 member organizations--including professional societies, government agencies, care providers, healthcare IT companies and others--have joined the IHE initiative worldwide. These organizations represent a balance of users and vendors. A list of current member organizations and information about becoming a member are available http://www.ihe.net/participate/.
Integration and Content Profiles: A Framework for Interoperability
IHE Profiles provide a standards-based framework for sharing information within care sites and across networks. They address critical interoperability issues related to information access for care providers and patients, clinical workflow, security, administration and information infrastructure. Each profile defines the actors, transactions and information content required to address the clinical use case by referencing appropriate standards.
Capsule descriptions of current IHE profiles in each domain are available at http://www.ihe.net/profiles/.
IHE Profiles are compiled into IHE Technical Frameworks; detailed technical documents which serve as implementation guides and are freely available online at http://www.ihe.net/technical_framework/.
Connectathons: Testing Interoperability and Conformance
IHE has been testing the interoperability of healthcare IT systems for more than a decade. At IHE Connectathons held regularly in several locations internationally, trained technical experts supervise testing of vendor systems, making use of advanced testing software developed by IHE and several partner organizations.
IHE publishes the results of testing in the online Product Registry database. Companies can also create IHE Integration Statements to publicize the integration capabilities of their commercial products.
More than 250 vendors worldwide have implemented and tested products with IHE capabilities. Further information about IHE Connectathons is available at http://www.ihe.net/connectathon/ or by contacting email@example.com.
Product Registry and User Handbooks: Advice for Purchasers and Implementers
The IHE Product Registry provides essential information for IT administrators and executives responsible for purchasing and integrating systems at healthcare sites and health information exchanges. Detailed results of testing at IHE Connectathons over the past several years in Europe, North America and Asia are made available in this easy-to-use online database. These results are cross-linked to IHE Integration Statements--conformance commitments of the IHE capabilities of commercial products--from dozens of vendors worldwide. This information is available at http://www.ihe.net/registry/.
IHE also provides domain-specific guidance for purchasers and implementers of HIT systems in the form of IHE handbooks and white papers, available online at http://www.ihe.net/resources/.
Supporting Health Information Networks Worldwide
Carefully implemented interoperability standards are the foundation of the EHR, PHR (personal health record) and health information exchanges being established in local, regional and national networks around the world.
IHE has defined a common framework to deliver the basic interoperability needed for such health information exchanges. It has developed a foundational set of standards-based integration profiles for information exchange with three interrelated efforts:
- Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing (XDS), enabling access to a patient's full medical history.
- A security framework for protecting the confidentiality, authenticity and integrity of personal health information.
- Patient identification management to ensure consistent patient information and effective collation of a patient's information across care settings and care events.
IHE profiles already support health information networks in Canada and the U.S.A, as well as several Asian and European countries. In the U.S.A IHE Profiles have been selected by the Health Information Technology Standards Panel sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to address priority use cases and have been accepted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for federal procurement of healthcare IT systems.
"IHE, more than any other single organization, has paved the way for practical interoperability." - Wes Rishel, Gartner, Inc.
"IHE is dedicated to meeting global demands for improved healthcare quality, cost effectiveness and safety by accelerating the availability of integrated and interoperable systems." - Elliott Sloane, PhD, Assistant Professor Department of Decision and Information Technologies, Villanova School of Business, Villanova University
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