The relentless efforts of Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) in connecting healthcare data worldwide are being recognized and rewarded. More and more organizations are highlighting and recommending the importance of IHE and its profiles, like the latest special publication of “Procuring Interoperability: Achieving High-Quality, Connected, and Person-Centered Care”, released by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).
The National Academy of Medicine was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the US on issues of health, healthcare, biomedical science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health.
NAM’s latest publication explores the barriers to achieve the interoperability needed to build a strong digital infrastructure that enables seamless and reliable information exchange across the complex system of healthcare. The paper focuses on specifying the steps necessary to achieve system-wide interoperability. It also accentuates that there are no effortless solutions to achieve interoperability: Long-term vision, leadership commitment, a technical knowledgebase, and, perhaps most of all, persistence will be required for a healthcare organization to make progress.
In the past, numerous organizations have made some efforts in the field of interoperability, which can be used to both make the individual hospital’s task easier and move the industry forward. NAM’s report states that the integration profiles and implementation guides developed by the IHE “are perhaps the best known and widely accepted”.
IHE is an initiative started in 1997 by healthcare industry professionals with the goal of enabling seamless and secure access to health information whenever and wherever needed. IHE develops “guides” or “profiles” that provide instructions on how to implement various data exchange standards to satisfy different interoperability needs.
The IHE website lists resources and tools for vendors and users of healthcare information systems to help them integrate their systems and share information more effectively. These free resources include user handbooks, case studies, technical frameworks, integration profiles, public comments and educational webinars.