For years, it was standard practice for healthcare hardware and software vendors to sell proprietary systems that lock healthcare providers into a single vendor end-to-end solution.
Reacting to the calls for assistance from the medical community, IHE USA is taking on the challenge to create a new HIT interoperability certification that will help take much of the guesswork out of compatibility of data between various healthcare systems.
IHE USA is a non-profit organization that is pioneering this new, industry-wide certification that will act as an independent third party, which sets and judges compatibility standards in terms of data interoperability and IT security.
If you broach the topic of interoperability with medical device salespeople, and ask about compatibility with other healthcare systems, they'll likely to tell you that they are fully compatible with just about everything under the sun. While this may technically be true, they often won't tell you how much work it will actually take to achieve a satisfactory level of data interoperability. This is a huge risk that can increase development costs and dramatically slow down implementation times.
Healthcare hardware and software vendors that wish to be certified will have to meet or exceed the set certification standards. If they pass, they will be awarded with the certification that will be publicly published for all to see. Depending on the level of overall interoperability, vendors can be awarded with IHE USA certificates in one of the three following tiers:
- Tier 1: Conformance to IHE profiles
- Tier 2: Demonstrated interoperability among disparate systems
- Tier 3: Validated Implementations of deployed certified technology
This type of interoperability certification is greatly needed in the healthcare industry, but that doesn't mean it will catch on. In order for new certifications to actually mean something, customers must demand it. That's why it's critical that healthcare IT managers be informed of this new certification and begin demanding the certification be met by medical device and software vendors. Otherwise, they won't be considered as a viable vendor.
Only when there is a strong demand will vendors consider applying. Not only will this help streamline project budgeting and timelines, it should also help to streamline and improve overall patient care.