Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise
IHE is an initiative by healthcare professionals and industry to improve the way computer systems in healthcare share information. IHE promotes the coordinated use of established standards such as DICOM and HL7 to address specific clinical need in support of optimal patient care. Systems developed in accordance with IHE communicate with one another better, are easier to implement, and enable care providers to use information more effectively.
Optimal patient care requires that care providers and patients be able to create, manage and access comprehensive electronic health records (EHRs) efficiently and securely. Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) accelerates the adoption of EHRs by improving the exchange of information among healthcare 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.
Engaging HIT Stakeholders in a Proven Process
IHE brings together users and developers of healthcare information technology (HIT) in an annually recurring 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 vendors’ systems at carefully planned and supervised events called Connectathons.
Domain Committees: Meeting Critical Interoperability Needs
IHE committees follow the four-step 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 by participating in IHE domain committees or reviewing the documents they publish for public comment. Find out more at ihe.net/domains or by contacting the domain secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Integration 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 www.ihe.net/profiles. IHE Profiles are compiled into IHE Technical Frameworks—detailed technical documents that serve as implementation guides and are freely available online at www.ihe.net/technical_framework.
Connectathons: Testing Interoperability and Conformance
IHE has been testing the interoperability of HIT 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. More than 250 vendors worldwide have implemented and tested products with IHE capabilities. Further information about IHE Connectathons is available at 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 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 atwww.ihe.net/resources.
Supporting Health Information Networks Worldwide
Carefully implemented interoperability standards are the foundation of EHRs, PHRs (personal health records) and health information exchanges being established around the world. IHE has developed a foundational set of profiles for secure exchange of patient information across enterprises. IHE profiles support health information networks in Canada and the U.S.A, as well as several Asian and European countries, and have been accepted as requirements by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for federal procurement of healthcare IT systems.
For further information, contact the staff of IHE's sponsoring organizations at firstname.lastname@example.org.