IHE releases draft implementation guide for mobile access to health data

By Neil Versel

IHE Mobile Access Health DocumentsWith the proliferation of mobile devices in healthcare and the growing demand for information delivered to those devices, healthcare interoperability collaborative Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) International has produced an implementation guide for providing such access.

The "Mobile Access to Health Documents" guide, published June 5 but not widely publicized until Monday, helps healthcare organizations design their IT networks to support mobility for clinicians, support staff and patients. It is meant to deliver information securely via electronic health records, personal health records or health information exchanges.

The guide, effectively a draft proposal, lays out the framework for an application provider interface (API) to open up access to health documents through mobile channels.

"The Mobile access to Health Documents (MHD) profile strives to define one standardized interface to health documents for use by mobile devices so that deployment of mobile applications is more consistent and reusable. In this context, mobile devices include tablets and smart-phones, and also include embedded devices like home-health devices. This profile is also applicable in larger systems where the needs are simple, such as to pull the latest summary for display on a secondary monitor," the draft says.

The highly technical document notes that common uses of HTTP might not be secure enough for transferring sensitive healthcare data. "It is recommended that application developers utilize a risk Assessment in the design of the applications, and that the operational environment utilize a risk Assessment in the design and deployment of the operational environment," it states.

As with other IHE documents, this guidance spells out several use cases in which the standards might be applied. Use cases include: home health and monitoring devices; patient kiosks in hospital registration departments; PHRs publishing information to EHRs or HIEs; apps that enable access to or submission of patient history data; and electronic measurement devices that need to access patient history information from EHRs or HIEs.

"It is, like all other IHE profiles, intended to facilitate secure and seamless exchange of health information," says Jim St. Clair, senior director of interoperability and standards at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). IHE started as a joint project between HIMSS, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the American College of Cardiology, and still receives administrative support from HIMSS.

The document is aimed at providers, vendors and HIEs, St. Clair added.

IHE is accepting public comments on the proposal through July 5. Comments can be submitted here.