By Mary Beth Massat
Interoperability and integration are once again two key issues addressed at this year’s HIMSS conference. Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) showcased system and device interoperability in its exhibit by following the path of a patient through the care process. In each step, the exhibit demonstrated the integration of systems by enabling the electronic transfer of the patient record from an ambulatory to an acute care environment.
New to the IHE integration profiles this year is the XDS standard. XDS stands for Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing. At various PACS and storage exhibits, vendors touted compliance with XDS and discussed the promise of this standard for sharing clinical patient data across disparate systems. Certainly, the emergence of clinical data repositories across an enterprise – including RHIOs – will catapult the accessibility and utility of clinical data.
Historically, PACS solutions have always included the storage and archiving function as part of the deliverable product. Companies that offered PACS were typically not in the market to provide stand-alone archiving solutions. “Over the last several years, companies have started to bring the concept of stand-alone intelligent clinical archives to the market,” said John Koller, president, KAI Consulting. “These stand-alone archives allow the virtualization and abstraction of the clinical application from the underlying storage. The benefit of these archives is a reduced dependence on any one PACS or storage vendor’s technology.”
While several vendors discussed new offerings for stand-alone clinical archives or data repositories, it became clear that a new distinction was emerging regarding archive offerings from PACS vendors. The exciting trend is that the companies typically associated with “legacy” PACS are now moving toward the separation of the visualization and archive layers. This trend can only further promote interoperability with the creation of a single enterprise image repository with future capabilities to integrate clinical data.