IHE-logoToday was the first day of a 4 day meeting of the IHE PCD planning and technical committees. It's been a productive meeting, with lots of work done in preparation of the Connectathon at next year's HIMSS in New Orleans. I can't really say too much about the actual meeting as there is a process for publicizing work product, gathering public comment, and publishing final work. But I do have a couple observations.

Where is everyone? There are major medical device interoperability efforts going on in a number areas, and none of those folks are participating. True, standards don't currently play a significant role in health care clinical information and medical device connectivity. But, standards are coming to health care, and once standards are defined and the industry begins adoption, those who've pursued their own paths will be faced with two options. Option one will be to continue proprietary (or "de facto" alternate standards, if you're lucky) at a cost disadvantage. The other option will be to retool products to bring them into compliance with the standard. The cost disadvantage comes with any proprietary solution - i.e., a non-standard solution.

The following organizations were represented at the meeting: Partners HealthCare, Kaiser Permanente, FDA, Welch Allyn, Philips, Draeger, HIMSS, WHO and AdvaMed. Nary an HIT vendor in sight, nor quite a few medical device vendors. Maybe there were lots of weather delays into Washington D.C.

Unlike much of the previous IHE work in radiology and cardiology, the PCD introduces new complexities. Both radiology and cardiology use cases deal with the diagnostic testing process. The Patient Care Domain contains surveillance and alarm notification, diagnostic activities like arrhythmia event review, and therapy delivery where caregivers or techs must manage the patient and/or a therapeutic device like infusion pumps, vents and dialysis. Whew. Each category has different types of data with different use cases, actors and performance requirements. Another challenge will be to craft profiles that support existing products, but don't lock out potential product innovations like multi-vendor multi-device central station.

Finally, an appeal to provide some input. The PCD has a survey for collecting prioritization data, so let your voice be heard. Responses to the survey will be taken until the end of July.

UPDATE:  I should probably mention that NIST stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a part of the Technology Administration in the Department of Commerce. Over 70% of NIST employees are PhDs who run a nuclear reactor, build and burn down buildings, and test all sorts of other things. The plan is for NIST to provide some test fixtures for vendors to use to validate conformance to specs developed by the IHE PCD domain. Sadly, I couldn't finagle a tour while we were there.