How do I use IHE?
How you use IHE depends on your specific role and your specific needs. Clinicians and administrators should be aware of the clinical and operational benefits that can be realized through IHE Integration Profiles and encourage their departments to demand those capabilities when acquiring or upgrading systems. Information technology professionals should know how to use IHE Integration Profiles in RFPs and purchasing agreements and should familiarize themselves with sections of the Technical Framework that describe interfaces between systems under their supervision. Developers and systems integrators should have a detailed knowledge of the sections of the Technical Framework relevant to their systems.
If IHE is about achieving a common language for integration, then an analogy can be made to how one uses various resources to understand a foreign language…
Standards such as DICOM and HL7 provide the vocabulary and basic grammar for the language of integration. The Technical Framework organizes these elements somewhat like a language textbook, fitting together the most relevant pieces and eliminating confusion and ambiguity. Integration Profiles are like a phrase book for essential communications. They further organize the language to enable vendors and purchasers to communicate about systems integration-even if DICOM or HL7 is not their native language.
IHE can make systems integration faster, more efficient, less expensive and more successful. Standards-based integration solutions like those defined in IHE are flexible, durable, easier to implement and less expensive to maintain than proprietary methods. Achieving systems integration through IHE is a dramatic step toward providing optimal patient care.