XDS And Its Huge Potential: Is Europe Being Short-Sighted About It?

woman-83155_1280One of SynApps Solutions’ most important technology partners is J4Care. Its global Marketing and Sales Director, Marcel Swennenhuis, looks today at XDS and how it’s starting to help institutions safely share data beyond the hospital wall

Healthcare providers want to share information not just between departments but increasingly, across organisations, at all sorts of levels. XDS, Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing, is absolutely the right technology to allow you to do that – as we are starting to witness in Finland, Holland and England, but also other countries around the globe.

XDS allows you to set up a federated structure with different repositories which are linked together. Each hospital can have its own repository and still be able to see the information in the other hospitals easily, thanks to the underlying standardisation.

Plus, with XDS you can connect DICOM VNAs, EMRs, laboratory systems and dermatology systems  – there’s so much you can practically do. XDS is a kind of umbrella, enabling you to retrieve information from all of those types of systems. Indeed, our VNA is just one of those sources, but we also provide this XDS umbrella.

XDS is universal standard defined globally by a worldwide standardisation organisation, IHE, which stands for Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise. This is great as vendors like us can build XDS and deliver software on a truly international scale. Many of us expect that soon IHE standards will also be used in a Pan-European way, too, so that a doctor in Spain can access medication information from a patient who resides in Holland but who is on holiday in Spain.

Great – but how do we get there from here?

One of the starting points is medication. The most important medical information you need to share for a patient is medication. One might think it is imaging, but it’s not! Medication is the most dangerous thing to get wrong because with the wrong combination of medications you could end up dead.

So if the Dutch national visits a pharmacist while holidaying in Spain and requests a certain medication but the pharmacist has no clue about what they are using they run a major risk.

Usually, that pharmacist in this imaginary Spanish location will just refuse to issue anything at all – ‘Sorry, but I am not going to prescribe you this medication unless I get a fax from your pharmacist in Holland that shows me what kind of medication you are taking right now.’ And usually, that just doesn’t happen, at least in a timely way. But this is something that could definitely be solved using IHE-standards like XDS.

So XDS could be used at all levels and internationally.

In the first instance, it’s more likely to be used at the Trust, region and country level. Many hospitals will also use it internally as they have so many different systems but by using XDS and forcing suppliers of the different ‘silos’ we discussed to support the standard, they can generate one view internally without having to move to one big system.

They could still have three or four repositories internally but use an XDS umbrella internally with one viewer that shows the integrated records to the doctor. Using XDS as a way of sharing between departments within a hospital is a trend that we see happening a lot right now, especially in Holland.

However I do have to add that there is a difference in adoption-speed at the European level in terms of XDS right now. XDS in Belgium hardly exists while in Holland, every hospital is talking about it. How can that be? They are such close neighbours. In Germany, XDS is again hardly there, probably coming but almost nothing is in place at the moment. It is really very different for each country, with each looking at the healthcare system from a different point of view.

Finally, I look forward to hearing more about SynApps success with its new Healthcare Practice over the coming months.

Marcel Swennenhuis works at our core tech partner J4Care, an innovative software company that’s helping medical professionals, as well as patients, by enabling easy, safe and fast storage and access to complete medical records