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Most often implemented IHE Profiles

Publication date: Jun 08, 2015

What are the most often implemented IHE profiles? There are some indirect sources that show us what profiles have been implemented in software.

There are no statistics on the actual deployment of software applications that conform to IHE profiles, given that there is no central registry of such implementations and that there is no requirement to license or register the use of IHE specifications. In an earlier blogpost I analysed the connectathon results for 2013, on the assumption that those profiles tested at a connectathon would be a reflection of the actual use of the various IHE profiles.

The question came up again as part of the ongoing IHE work around creating some kind of certification for IHE-knowledgable experts, known as IHE CP (Certified Professional). We simply can't require that such a CP be aware of all of the details of all of IHE's profiles (draft, trial use, widely implemented, or not at all) - we should however probably require that they have a deep level of understanding about the 'top 20 IHE profiles as used around the world' - in as far as we can determine such a top 20 is a neutral fashion. They should probably 'now something' about the profiles with a lower ranking (e.g. 20 to 40), and 'have heard about' any remaining profiles.

Stefan Sauermann and his colleagues at the Technikum Wien in Austria created a global ranking of the use of IHE profiles based on the 2010-1015 connecthathon results (see detailed google doc, method used).

Usage of IHE profiles, 2010-2015 time frame

If we focus on the top-20 profiles the list is a mixture between infrastructural profiles (CT, ATNA, rank 1 and 2), patient id/demographics related profiles (rank 4, 5, 7, 8, 15, 18), radiology workflows (rank 6, 9, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20), XDS (3, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14) and the PCD "Device Enterprise Communication" (DEC, rank 19).

DEC is a nice example to show that the North American vendors and the European vendors have a different focus: DEC ranks 10th in the North American connectathons, and 59th in the European ones. One can almost venture a guess that there is some unique US motivation (probably legislation) for supporting the profile. Mammography (rank 20) is much more widely used in Europe, probably because of its use in national mammography screening programmes.

In general the profiles related to patient identity/demographics are ranked much higher in the US than they are in Europe - showing the lack of a unique patient identifier in the US.

Profiles defined 'on top of' XDS rank higher in the US than in Europe, whereas the Radiology worflows rank higher in Europe than they do in the US. This may well be caused by a market-delay effect: the European market started to adopt both the Radiology workflows as well as XDS in earnest after those profiles had been implemented widely in the US. The exception is XDS-I: it ranks much higher in Europe than in the US, either because a lot of European XDS projects start out to be 'image exchange only', and/or because of the fact that the European non-imaging vendors haven't signed up to XDS that widely yet.

As you can see it's quite possible to create a list of the 'globally most commonly implemented IHE profiles'. As to what one should conclude from looking at the list - that's a much more tricky question.


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