IHE profiles provide a good EHR base
Business needs and a care cycle approach are two reasons to build electronic record systems that can be accessed across enterprises, said Cor Loef, Philips Electronics in Best, Netherlands, during his talk, “IHE: Building the Electronic Health Record,” at RSNA 2006 on Wednesday.

EHRs contain patient data from past and current encounters. EHR systems provide the functionality for accessing such data in a digital form, potentially spanning multiple departmental IT systems of one or more enterprises. A major problem is how to integrate and make the imaging data in an EHR system available. IHE Integration Profiles enable the integration of images and image-related information in EHR systems. IHE Radiology Integration Profiles provide mechanisms for sharing high-quality image data for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. They also enable coupling of the imaging workflow to the enterprise workflow. IHE IT Infrastructure Integration Profiles define essential mechanisms needed for web-based access to images or documents across healthcare enterprises. They also lay a foundation for general services that each EHR systems would need, such as single sign-on. Certain Integration Profiles provide web-based access to images or reports where the full DICOM quality is not needed. Other profiles define how to access both imaging and non-imaging data originating from separate systems of various departments.

Loef recommended that attendees use specifications from IHE to build EHRs. There are 55 profiles currently available and work continues to extend XDS’ document content. Using IHE profiles helps harmonize IHE domain-specific workflow and document content, realize an overall workflow concept, and link departmental documents, such as diagnostic reports, to the enterprise EMR. Code sets and master files define which you’re using. Configuration support remains quite a challenge, Loef said, but more profiles and solutions for security details and access control are coming.

IHE integration profiles from different domains can be combined, said Loef, and those combinations cover many scenarios. The scenarios offer enhanced functionality, intra- and cross-enterprise communication, enable system evolution, and ensure future integration.