Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise
You and your patients need to be able to create, manage and access comprehensive electronic health records (EHRs) efficiently and securely. That's where the work of the Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) comes in. IHE improves the way health care systems communicate with one another and accelerates the adoption of EHRs.
IHE is an initiative by health care professionals and industry to improve the way computer systems in health care share information. It brings together users and developers of health care 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, called IHE Profiles, which optimize established standards for communication among systems in these use cases.
- Vendors implement IHE Profiles into their health care IT systems.
- Vendors' systems are tested at a carefully planned and supervised event called IHE Connectathon.
Purchasers of IT systems can used IHE specifications to develop requirements and browse the IHE product registry to find companies that have successfully tested and implemented IHE capabilities in commercially-available systems.
Vendors adopt IHE Profiles defined in IHE Technical Frameworks and then test their systems at an annual IHE Connectathon. They can then publish Integration Statements in the IHE product registry to inform the marketplace about the IHE capabilities of their commercial products.
Vendors can use the IHE Technical Frameworks as a basis for adopting standards-based open systems architecture to exchange medical information in common formats. They can specify compliance with IHE Profiles as a requirement when indicating their institutions' specifications for purchasing health care IT systems. User handbooks are available for radiology and the mammography subspecialty to help in implementing integrated systems.
IHE committees work to address how systems and software can exchange, interpret and share data 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
These committees work in annual cycles to expand the capabilities addressed by IHE Profiles.
More than 650 member organizations — professional societies, government agencies, provider organizations, HIT companies and others — have joined the IHE initiative worldwide.
When shopping for solutions for your institution, look for products that comply with IHE Profiles. You can also attend a Connectathon to learn more about the compliance testing process and the governance of the IHE movement. Connectathon events include presentations and overviews for the general public, and guided tour of the testing floor.
If you are a clinical or technical domain expert, become a leader in this work by participating in IHE domain committees or reviewing the documents they publish for public comment. Find out more at IHE.net or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.