Interoperability: What your IT system needs to achieve

International standards are essential to successful collaborations in the healthcare industry. IT systems need to be compatible if they want to exchange data. A Buyers’ Guide detailing the functions that IT solutions need to have for specific hospital applications is available for download on the IHE website.

IT managers, users and hospital management have known for a long time that IT solutions must lend themselves to flexible networking and be vendor-neutral. This is why system interoperability is now at the top of the specification list for any hospital’s IT purchases.

The Interoperability Working Group of the German Association of Health IT Vendors (bvitg e.V.) and IHE Germany e.V. joined forces to develop a specification guide to be used in compiling specific interoperability requirements for the bidding process. It is available for download on the Internet:

“This guide is especially useful for hospital and practice managers who want to purchase or expand an IHE-compliant platform for cross-enterprise data exchange,” says Dr. Peter Geibel, bvitg’s Interoperability and Standardization Consultant.


The IHE guide indicates which IT solutions have to meet which requirements in specific applications in order to be compatible with other organizations’ solutions. The necessary features are described in detail. These requirements apply to both internal and cross-enterprise communication, and can also be used for archiving systems, as one example. Typical use scenarios would include compiling patient or case records. In addition to general requirements, guides are also available for the following areas:

  • Document management
  • Master Patient Index
  • User access logs
  • Access control

Hospitals, medical practices and their consultants can use the guide for free. “This is a great help for managers of hospitals and other healthcare facilities because they can use the specification list when calling for bids, and then to evaluate the bids,” Geibel explains. “So we’re giving them a tool to help purchasers and vendors understand each other, and to make sure that performance meets expectations after the deal is closed.”