A successful IHE Connectathon for VISUS

  • Conectathon 2018 VISUS Group

When the top developers of all the leading healthcare IT companies gather under one roof, it can only be for one reason: the IHE Connectathon. This year, the international gathering was held in The Hague in the Netherlands between April 16-20, 2018. And like every year since the event was founded, VISUS developers from Bochum were also taking part. Key issues this year included the IHE IOCM, IHE XDM, and FHIR profiles as well as the topic of data protection.

In summary, the focus was on profiles which further help and perfect the smooth exchange of medical data. IHE IOCM (Imaging Object Change Management), for example, makes the subsequent exchange of an incorrect or poor-quality DICOM series possible. IHE XDM (Cross-enterprise Document Media Exchange) in turn extends DICOM email and enables the targeted sending of medical documents or functional data as an email attachment. This kind of exchange is primarily of great interest in associations, such as the Westdeutsche Teleradiologieverbund (West German Teleradiology Association). The positive tests for this profile at the Connectathon indicate that IHE XDM will soon enter into widespread practice. Another development which could provide easier implementation of network structures in the future is the FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standard. To test all three standards appropriately, the VISUS team assigned one of the three systems it had brought along for this purpose and carried out 85 successful tests with about 15 actors for the three profiles (status so far).

Perfected knowledge: IHE XDS

Moreover, in 2018 one profile was also brought into focus which is increasingly important in practice: IHE XDS. VISUS has already been implementing this profile for a number of years and has now made itself into a real XDS specialist. "The exchange of medical data via IHE XDS forms the basis of numerous networks, for example, the electronic patient record network in Switzerland. With our solutions, we are already supporting a great many healthcare facilities with complying with the demands of the profile. Our wealth of experience in this area is correspondingly extensive. This is reflected in the many successful XDS tests—more than 130 according to results so far—in this year's Connectathon. It's also evidenced by the fact that many companies are now asking us for advice on XDS issues", says Sven Luttmann, an XDS system engineer at VISUS.

The focus is shifting back to data protection

However, companies which traveled to The Hague for the Connectathon not only worked on profiles, but on protecting medical data too. A special working group from IHE Europe published a white paper as part of the event and this detailed the effects of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) on the implementation of IHE profiles. Marc Kammerer, who was a member of this working group, explains, "We wanted to use this white paper to show that there are important requirements for everyone processing personal data and that these require work processes to be analyzed precisely. We also show, however, that IHE already has answers to the most important questions being asked.  Nevertheless, we must examine the complex workflows behind the profiles in the future through the prism of EU GDPR—and amend the existing profiles if necessary." The complete white paper can be downloaded from the IHE website here.

Networking is teamwork

This year, the VISUS team was split into three teams, each with different core areas. The Connectathon was once again an amazing effort for the team—in the end, a total of more than 200 tests were carried out— but it was an effort which visibly pleased all those who participated and this did not pass unnoticed by competitors either. Sven Luttmann again: "At the IHE Connectathon, it is naturally about testing your own systems against those of other market participants, but it's also about putting your own IHE skills to the test and broadening your knowledge. At VISUS, we've always placed a lot of value on implementing profiles—and that becomes obvious at these gatherings of experts. The whole VISUS team is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and is much in demand as a consultative partner.