Sept. 15, 2016
Through its engagement with IHE and a range of other activities, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) has shown its commitment to helping healthcare organizations share health information simply and securely. But the road to interoperable healthcare still has miles to go, and the ACC recognizes the need for action to progress to a better place.
The organization thus assembled a writing committee of 15 volunteer clinicians, all of them experts in cardiac care, and over 18 months that committee drafted a statement that identifies critical areas where interoperability is needed for effective information exchange and identifies the IHE methodology as a key to achieving it.
The resulting publication was reviewed and endorsed by organizations across the cardiac medical specialties. Entitled, “2016 ACC/ASE/ASNC/HRS/SCAI Health Policy Statement on Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise,” it is published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. It takes a strong stand on advocating implementation of IHE profiles to advance the interoperability of health information technology.
The statement acknowledges frustration that “the immediate access to data that has transformed so many aspects of our lives, from banking, to shopping, and to communication, has been slow to reach the field of health care.” Interoperability among the many IT systems used in healthcare is needed to facilitate that kind of convenient and secure access to health information. The statement describes IHE’s unique role in achieving this goal. As expressed in the statement, “the role of IHE is to leverage and extend existing foundational work to improve the operational efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery because data standards alone lack sufficient specificity to accomplish this. IHE is in a unique position to formalize the use of existing standards to support clinically relevant workflows and improve efficiency.”
“While there is an abundance of standards, standards alone are not sufficient to demonstrate interoperability,” says John Windle, MD, chair of the ACC writing committee and chief of internal medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. “The integrated health exchange is a way to truly demonstrate interoperability.”
The ACC hopes the statement will serve as a call to action. They recognize that everyone in healthcare from the C-suite and IT team to physicians and nurses needs to understand interoperability and be on board to make it a reality.
“We are trying to give healthcare leaders the tools they need to implement these profiles into the day-to-day clinical setting,” says Paul Dow, MS, informatics and health information technology associate with the American College of Cardiology.
The statement provides summary descriptions of 14 published IHE profiles in cardiology – addressing workflow, structured content, data submission to registries among other areas – and their benefits for clinical care, operational efficiency and research. It also gives a preview of work in progress.
“The American College of Cardiology has supported the cardiology domain since its inception. This health policy statement was written to promote the role of IHE as a mechanism to promote real interoperability,” says Dr. Windle.
The ACC’s statement is a big step forward in promoting the adoption of IHE profiles, but the organization knows there is more work to do. Dow could easily imagine a new project stemming from this statement evolving over time.
“The sequel to this document could include more case studies, examples of how IHE profiles were integrated and their long-term ROI,” says Dow.