Tyrolean hospitals share patient data

Seven hospitals in the Tyrol region are now online with an IHE cross-enterprise document sharing (XDS) network centred at Insnsburch University Hospital. About 4,000 patient discharge letters are exchanged daily and 4,000 queries managed.

Ingmar Gassner MD, at the Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital...
Ingmar Gassner MD, at the Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital Innsbruck, reviews radiology records with a colleague using the shared network.

Florian Wozak, a member of the project development team, reports that the network is fully integrated with clinical information systems, connects the products of different vendors of health information systems, and significantly, conforms to the requirements for the Elektronische Gesundheitsakte (ELGA), Austria’s planned electronic patient record. Historical records from the community hospitals were being uploaded at a rate of 250,000 transactions registered daily, he said.

Begun in 2002 at the University for Health Sciences, as a research project called health@net, the original goal was to interconnect the central Innsbruck University Hospital with general practitioners (GPs) and specialty practice groups. ‘After some work we decided to shift the focus of this project for direct communications to patient-centric electronic health records (EHR),’ he explained. The introduction of an architecture for a cross-enterprise document sharing (XDS) network by the international user-driven organisation Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), ‘…was similar to our own planned designs and we decided to migrate our prototype architecture toward a fully XDS-compliant infrastructure.’

In January 2009, the registration process, uploading the content for the repositories, began with the Tyrolean State Hospitals (TiLAK) and then step-by-step after that with the community hospitals. The architecture for the Tyrol network was tested over a three-year period at IHE Connectathons in Europe and the USA.

As a further security measure, the Tyrol network runs on a layer of a dedicated Austrian eHealth infrastructure that is part of the ELGA programme and is independent of the internet, connecting healthcare institutions, as well as physician practices.

‘Physicians today want everything relevant to a patient’s care pushed to their inbox, so we want to cover this workflow by providing all information,’ he said, adding: ‘We focus on integrating a system the way it will be used, as we have learned that usability is very important for the success or failure of health IT projects.’


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