Europe meets Swiss eHealth at 2012 IHE connectathon

Europe met Swiss eHealth at this year's European Connectathon for Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) held May 21 to 25, 2012 with a record attendance of 520 participants and 250 visitors.
Over 2800 tests for interoperablity among 120 medical information systems were performed by 85 companies, including two new profiles that establish a foundation for patient-centric care by moving richer data sets through clinical workflows to physicians and caregivers.
This was the first time the Gazelle platform used to coordinate the complex interactions of this five-day connectivity marathon was managed by IHEServices, a dedicated operation within IHE-Europe that offers professional interoperability testing services for companies, national or regional health systems.
Hosted by IHE Suisse, a clockwork organisation enabled unprecedented connectivity during this marathon testing of health information systems. 
This year's event was fully operational at 9:57 am on the opening day when all systems were successfully connected on the 50 megabyte per second network, two hours ahead of the previous 11 annual European Connectathon events, according to Tony Schaller, the technical director for the organising group establishing a new key performance indicator for the event.
The number of tests successfully completed by the end of the event on Friday afternoon also set a new record at 2935.
"The stability of the test engine, the large bandwidth and flawless organisation allowed teams to focus exclusively on the functionality of their systems, which led to the success of this event" said Eric Poiseau, who leads the technical team from IHE-Services.
The 350 software developers from 14 countries and 45 monitors for the testing marathon were connected through 600 metres of fibre cable and two kilometres of copper wire.
The first-time testing of IHE profiles for Cross Enterprise Document Workflow (XDW) and Lab Analytic Workflow (LAW) also demonstrated the success for the IHE collaborative work processes to develop open protocols that ensure interoperability among healthcare information systems.
LAW reflects a top-down industrial development initiated by a consortium of the leading manufacturers of clinical laboratory instruments, while XDW is the result of a bottom-up development by a consortium of healthcare users in the Venato region of Italy.
Both programs advanced through a public review and comment process to arrive at the European Connectathon for validation, and both remain in the public domain, available for implementation.
"Workflow is the key word that unites these new profiles for IHE, as well as the smooth organization of this event by IHE Suisse and IHE-Services," said Lapo Bertini, the Co-chair of IHE-Europe representing vendors.
"Both these profiles achieve the highest level of our mission for providing a seamless quality of care for patients by moving the right information for the right patient at the very moment," said Jacqueline Surugue, the User Co-chair for IHE-Europe.
Held at Bern Expo, the week-long European Connectathon also included a conference program entitled "Europe Meets Swiss eHealth" with workshops focused on the confederation's strategy for implementing an electronic patient record in cooperation with the nation's 26 cantons. 
The ambitious program was introduced by the Swiss health minister Alain Berset and the keynote address was delivered by Clemens Martin Auer from the Austrian Health Ministry.
The twice-daily guided tours of the testing floors were fully booked with 25 people per group.
About Connectathon
Connectathon is the healthcare IT industry's largest interoperability testing event, the culmination of a detailed development process based on the IHE Technical Frameworks that promote the adoption of standards-based interoperability by vendors and users of healthcare information systems. 
Once each year Connectathons held in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia provide developers an opportunity to demonstrate conformance to internationally accepted integration profiles that assure any IHE-compliant system can share data and interoperate with any other IHE compliant system.
About IHE-Europe
IHE-Europe is the European organisation of the international IHE organisation. ‘Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise’ (IHE) is a joint initiative of healthcare professionals and industry to improve the way computer systems in healthcare share information. 
IHE promotes the coordinated use of established standards such as DICOM, XML and HL7 to address specific clinical needs in support of optimal patient care. 
Systems developed in accordance with IHE specifications
communicate with one another better, are easier to implement, and enable care providers to use information more effectively.