Connecting medical devices : the role of the IHE and the Connectathon

Setting up exchanges between systems applications means that a communal language needs to be adopted, used and shared by the different participants.

Setting up exchanges between systems applications means that a communal language needs to be adopted, used and shared by the different participants.

That is where the strategic issue lies: normalisation and standardisation. In the e-health field, being able to exchange data is fundamental as it makes sure that patient care is coordinated correctly.

For this reason, several institutions and associations are working to promote the interoperability of health IT systems by adopting international norms and standards to use in the health sector. For example, the IHE (1) produces integration profiles which support international norms and standards to produce an implementable specification. This answers a clearly defined need to share or exchange healthcare data.

medical devices ihe

Every year, professionals’ integration work is validated at an event called Connectathon (2), an interoperability marathon. During the event, manufacturers interface their systems to check they have applied standards according to specifications given in technical frameworks.

In regards to integration profiles which answer medical devices’ communication needs, we already intend to speak about the DEC (Device Enterprise Communication) or ACM (Alarm Communication Management) profiles to name but a few.

Here we see the evolution of institutions and software vendors which move forward together to make the interoperability of different existing and future systems easier.

Sources of this article

(1) IHE: Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise International is an organisation that gather diverses e-health players around the precise definition of standard profiles for the digitalisation, the share and exchange of healthcare data.

(2) The IHE-Europe Connectathon provides a unique opportunity for vendors to test the interoperability of their  products in a structured environment with peer vendors. Participants test against multiple vendors using real world clinical  scenarios following IHE Integration Profiles specifications.