Make IHE a priority in radiology purchases

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In his talk, “Purchasing and Integrating Radiology Systems with IHE,” on Monday at RSNA 2006, Christoph Dickmann, PhD, with Siemens Medical Solutions, said that IHE has a goal of integrating systems to achieve clinical needs by making systems communicate better.

IHE has tried to make interoperability simple by basing efforts on standards that leave a lot of options. Dickmann said anyone considering the purchase of a new modality should first determine what he or she wants to do and what is the plan. IHE Profiles offer various scenarios and a potential buyer should review them to see if there is one that applies to his or her situation.

Then, the buyer should list the applicable Profiles in the RFP so that vendors are aware of the interoperability requirements and goals. Buyers also should check vendors’ IHE integration statements to find a match.

If you are drafting an RFP, Dickmann recommended being brief and effective. For example, when buying a new modality, be clear about goals such as reducing and preventing errors and improving throughput. Dickmann reviewed the Schedule Workflow Profile which is “the backbone of IHE” and covers and closes the entire radiology workflow loop. Be sure to present IHE standards as an integration priority to vendors, he said. Specify the appropriate profiles, actors and options in your RFP. Dickmann added that profiles should become a regular part of RFPs. Also, prepare to identify and address legacy system issues. And, talk about your IHE strategy with your organization’s CIO, IT staff and appropriate vendors.

Dickmann directed attendees to such resources as the IHE Technical Framework, demonstrations like the ones offered at RSNA, workshop presentations, the IHE Users’ Handbook, and annual Connectathon results. You also can go to for some of these resources and more information.

The maximum benefits come when all systems are IHE compatible, Dickmann said. “Data is consistent and complete and the workflow can be tracked and monitored. Flexibility is important because that means you are less dependent on one vendor.”