Health policy statement from ACC, other cardiovascular societies encourages interoperability of health IT systems

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Adopting standards from Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) and collaborating among stakeholders could help the U.S. health information technology infrastructure and aid in developing a data interoperability framework, according to a health policy statement from leading cardiovascular medical societies.

The statement was published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on Aug. 15. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) developed the statement in conjunction with the American Society of Echocardiography, American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, Heart Rhythm Society and Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions.

John R. Windle, MD, FACC, of the University of Nebraska, was chair of the writing committee, while Richard J. Kovacs, MD, FACC, of Indiana University, was chair of the ACC’s clinical quality committee.

IHE, a nonprofit organization, develops standards-based frameworks to share information within care sites and across networks. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and Radiological Society of North America sponsored and established IHE in 1998. In 2003, IHE and the ACC formed a partnership and developed the IHE’s cardiology domain.

“The objective of IHE is to improve the way computer systems in health care share information,” the researchers wrote. “In a clinical setting, IHE profiles allow seamless exchange of high-quality data that can be repurposed without the redundancy and risk of error associated with copying and re-entering data or the expensive and time-consuming task of building custom interfaces. This saves time and resources and can minimize billing delays and rejections. It also facilitates the completion of analytic and administrative tasks by taking a systems-based approach of collecting data once for use many times. The interoperability of high-quality granular data that retains both its semantic and syntactic elements will enable quality improvement, evaluation of care efficiency and effectiveness, and ultimately even clinical research—all with data that is captured only once.”

Although the researchers said implementing the IHE technical frameworks would take time, they mentioned clinicians and organization could implement profiles and help the process. They added that interoperability among systems would benefit patients and reduce errors associated with paper-based requests and manual transcription of data between source documents.

“The lack of interoperability of health IT prevents the field of health care from realizing the full potential of the Information Age that has revolutionized so many fields of human endeavor,” the researchers wrote. “Using internationally recognized standards, IHE provides a construct to create the technical frameworks to exchange healthcare data while maintaining the granular syntactic and semantic attributes needed to accommodate the needs of the diverse consumers of healthcare information.”