IHE boosts systems integration prospects

ATLANTA - The Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise initiative offers a wealth of connectivity solutions for radiology departments. IHE can be a great help to those seeking to implement an enterprise-wide image and information management system, according to Dr. David Piraino, section head for computers in radiology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

IHE is a joint initiative between the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and the RSNA to improve the integration of medical image data with information systems. Now in its third year of implementation, IHE is seen as the crucial link in breaking down the technical barriers that have hindered the development of data networks that span individual specialties and hospital departments.

Before a system can be built, however, it's important to evaluate an institution's workflow issues and purchasing resources, according to Piraino. He made his comments yesterday, during a HIMSS session on IHE integration strategies.

"Know yourself," Piraino said. "Where are (your) process issues? Where is information transfer and access hurting (your) operations, and where is it that (you) can make a significant impact? And how much time and money (are you) able to put into this? And how can (you) optimize (your) investment?"

IHE integration profiles, such as scheduled workflow and patient information reconciliation, can help solve clinical priorities such as the proper identification of patients, Piraino said.

"I can make sure that the proper report is with the proper images and the patient gets treated correctly," he said.

IHE has made a lot of progress since its inception. Unfortunately, most vendors need more time to bring these benefits to market, Piraino said.

"Most vendors need one to two years to release commercial software implementing the integration profiles after demonstration," he said. "Different vendors are implementing the profiles at different rates."

To deal with variable implementation rates, and the financial challenges of upgrading current systems, Piraino suggests using IHE concepts to model current workflow. If necessary, these concepts can be applied manually within radiology to perform process reengineering, until an electronic solution can be procured, he said.

"I can take these processes that must happen, but lots of times are not happening or not happening well, and standardize them either electronically or manually," he said. "And then, as I purchase new equipment and have availability to do these electronically, I can slowly replace certain portions of the (workflow) with an electronic process."

Once the radiology department has a good understanding of its workflow, it's time for the rest of the enterprise to get its act together, he said. For example, substantial healthcare benefits can be gained by developing an integrated clinical desktop linking radiology and other clinical applications.

Other benefits can be found by sharing images and results among departments, using standardized codes and terminology, and determining the best ways to manage information, such as historical studies. Future IHE expansion beyond the radiology domain will help advance these ideas, he said.

By Erik L. Ridley
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
January 30, 2002

Related Reading

IHE looks for more participation by HIS vendors, other specialties, February 6, 2001

RSNA, HIMSS release IHE test tools, announce Year 2 plans, June 16, 2000

RSNA and HIMSS renew IHE project for improving healthcare data exchange, April 10, 2000

Copyright © 2002 AuntMinnie.com

Page 1 of 775
Next Page