IHE Connectathon Registration Grows with Demand for Health IT Interoperability Testings

The 2012 annual testing event shows 20 percent increase in participation from the 2011 IHE North American Connectathon

The annual IHE North American Connectathon continues to show substantial year-to-year growth as the importance of systems interoperability in health information technology becomes ever more evident.

More than 100 leading health IT companies and research organizations have registered to test more than 180 health IT systems for interoperability and compliance with specifications called IHE profiles. This represents an increase of more than 20 percent over the 2011 event and indicates expanded recognition in the health IT community for standards-based interoperability and IHE profiles as a practical means of reaching this goal.
The Connectathon, which is the health IT industry’s only large-scale face-to-face testing event, will take place Jan. 9-13, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago at 151 E. Wacker Drive. In addition, the IHE North America Connectathon also includes a one-day conference on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, with experts in health information exchange and electronic health records.
IHE Connectathons are professionally managed and independently monitored testing events. A technical project management team develops detailed test plans for each role being tested at the Connectathon and organizes the process to maximize interoperability testing between corresponding systems from different vendors. Independent monitors observe and record test results, which are published in the Connectathon results database .
This year’s Connectathon will test health IT systems from across the spectrum of care. Profiles from eight of the 13 clinical and operational domains represented in IHE will be tested at the event. The domains participating in testing are:
•Anatomic Pathology
•IT Infrastructure
•Patient Care Coordination
•Patient Care Devices
•Quality, Research and Public Health
Separate annual Connectathon events are conducted in the eye care and radiation oncology domains. Dental, endoscopy and pharmacy are more recently organized domains and have yet to publish profiles for testing.
Introduced in 1999, the IHE Connectathon has continued as annual event with continued growth in the level and scope of participation. A parallel event in Europe was established in 2001 and has followed a similar trajectory. The next IHE Europe Connectathon will be held May 21-25, 2012, in Bern, Switzerland. Connectathons have also been held in Australia, China, Japan and Korea.
“The continued success of IHE profiles in numerous Certified EHRs and deployment in HIEs helps to continue to drive the outstanding growth of our Connectathon conference,” said Scott MacLean, Deputy CIO of Partners HealthCare and IHE-USA Board member, “It is also helping to demonstrate the real technical work being done to make health IT a reality.”
Background on IHE
IHE profiles provide precise implementation specifications, based on established standards, to address specific health IT interoperability issues. They detail required actions for health IT systems with many different functions to acquire, manage and communicate vital medical information effectively, while supporting efficient provider workflows and protecting private health information.
IHE profiles have provided the foundation for numerous health information exchange networks in the US and worldwide. Numerous profiles were selected as components of the US federal electronic health record standards published by the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP). IHE profiles also support many of the functional requirements of EHRs subsequently published by the US Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT under its campaign to promote meaningful use of EHRs.
IHE Technical Frameworks, the volumes in which IHE profiles are published, are annually expanded and continuously maintained by committees of volunteers in the 13 active IHE domains. Each domain is sponsored and overseen by organizations representing healthcare providers and health IT stakeholders in the domain.
A suite of test tools for the Connectathon has been developed and continually enhanced by a consortium of research organizations including Inria, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. The tools make it possible to manage the testing of thousands of transactions among Connectathon participants, monitor and record test results and simulate the functions of corresponding systems to enable rapid testing and debugging.
IHE USA (www.iheusa.org) is a not-for-profit organization established in 2010 that operates as a deployment committee of IHE International®. The mission of IHE USA is to drive adoption of standards-based interoperability to improve patient care through innovation, standards profiling, testing, education and collaboration. IHE USA improves the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery by supporting the deployment of standards-based electronic health record systems, facilitating the exchange of health information among care providers, both within the enterprise and across care settings, and enabling local, regional and nationwide health information networks in the United States, all in a manner consistent with participation in the activities of IHE International, Inc.
About IHE International
IHE International, Inc. (www.ihe.net) is the global hub of the IHE initiative, a multi-stakeholder effort started in 1997 to promote the effective use of electronic health records and health information technology (HIT) by driving the adoption of standards-based solutions for interoperability. IHE International brings together HIT experts and stakeholders in more than a dozen clinical and operational domains to develop implementation guides call IHE Profiles that define the use of standards to address specific HIT interoperability needs. It also oversees a process of testing that fosters the adoption of IHE Profiles in real-world HIT products and care settings. IHE interoperability solutions are implemented in hundreds of products and in care sites around the world.