Industrial Standards (HL7 and DICOM) and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE)
9.1 INDUSTRIAL STANDARDS AND WORKFLOW PROFILES
Transmission of images and textual information between healthcare information systems has always been difficult for two reasons. First, information systems use different computer platforms, and second, images and data are generated from various imaging modalities by different manufacturers. With the emergent healthcare industry standards, Health level 7 (HL7) and Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM), it has become feasible to integrate all these heterogeneous, disparate medical images and textual data into an organized system. Interfacing two healthcare components requires two ingredients: a common data format and a communication protocol. HL7 is a standard textual data format, whereas DICOM includes data format and communication protocols. In conforming to the HL7 standard, it is possible to share healthcare information between the hospital information systems (HIS), the radiology information systems (RIS), and PACS. By adapting the DICOM standard, medical images generated from a variety of modalities and manufacturers can be interfaced as an integrated healthcare system. These two standards are topics to be discussed first. The third topic to be covered is integrating the healthcare enterprise (IHE) model used for driving the adoption of standards. With all the good standards available, it takes a champion IHE to persuade ...