IHE Profiles and Certification Drive Interoperability

A certification program can’t work unless it has the support of companies that pay for the privilege of attaining elevated performance status for tested products. But that’s not enough. The certification additionally must be understood, accepted and requested--even demanded--by the buyers of those products. In the case of certification for IHE Profiles contained within health information technology software, the ‘understanding’ part is a challenge unto itself.

There are significant and critical issues around effective inclusion of these profiles in products going to market, and therefore the need for a formal, rigorous, independent examination of how the profiles are incorporated. The value of certification can’t be understood without a working understanding of what IHE Profiles are--how they came to be developed, by whom, and why.

No doubt health IT vendors have such an understanding, or they should. So it’s relatively easier to follow the case for certification in the whitepaper just published by ICSA Labs. But healthcare providers, CIOs, clinical executives and those who make health policy around the industry need for IT interoperability aren’t likely to have working knowledge of IHE’s mission, progress, or value in enabling uniform implementation of data creation and transport to and from different information systems.

That’s why this whitepaper focuses heavily on bringing the healthcare field’s IT users and influencers up to speed on the depth, breadth and purposes of IHE Profiles, and the impact they can have on longstanding interoperability challenges if implemented precisely and uniformly through the purchase of certified IT products. The rest is up to producers and their acceptance of certification, and also to knowledgeable customers requiring certification so they can reliably push ahead to an information environment capable of following the patient.