ASTRO hosts radiation oncology integration project

The American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) hosted an Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise – Radiation Oncology (IHE-RO) connectathon at its headquarters in Fairfax, Va., to advance its effort to promote seamless connectivity and integration of radiotherapy equipment and patient health information systems.

Allowing physicians to purchase the best equipment for their practices, regardless of manufacturer, will hopefully reduce medical errors as healthcare staff will no longer have to re-enter information because systems are unable to communicate, the society said. ASTRO believes the project will allow equipment manufacturers to focus on developing their niche systems rather than forcing them to produce an entire product line.

ASTRO said the connectathon was the final step in a multistep process that included vendor development, software testing and real-time interconnectivity testing.

The connectathon participants included: BrainLab, Elekta, Nucletron, Philips Healthcare, Varian Medical Systems, CMS and TomoTherapy. ASTRO also said that participants were required to show their ability to accept information from at least three different vendors and have their information accepted by three different systems.

BrainLab, Elekta-IMPAC, Nucletron, Philips, Varian and CMS all passed the IHE-RO test suite, which involved computer software testing that the vendors submitted prior to the connectathon in order to validate the base functionality of the products, ASTRO said.

IHE-RO is a branch of the IHE project, which began in 1998 under the direction of HIMSS and RSNA as a way to improve the way that healthcare computer systems share information. IHE-RO involves the integration of radiotherapy equipment specifically and, when implemented, provides for radiotherapy equipment produced by different vendors to work together and share information more efficiently, ASTRO said.