Providing Interoperability of eHealth Communities Through Peer-to-Peer Networks

Kilic O., Dogac A., Eichelberg M.

IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN BIOMEDICINE, vol.14, no.3, pp.846-853, 2010 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Providing an interoperability infrastructure for Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs) is on the agenda of many national and regional eHealth initiatives. Two important integration profiles have been specified for this purpose, namely, the "Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) Cross-enterprise Document Sharing (XDS)" and the "IHE Cross Community Access (XCA)." IHE XDS describes how to share EHRs in a community of healthcare enterprises and IHE XCA describes how EHRs are shared across communities. However, the current version of the IHE XCA integration profile does not address some of the important challenges of cross-community exchange environments. The first challenge is scalability. If every community that joins the network needs to connect to every other community, i.e., a pure peer-to-peer network, this solution will not scale. Furthermore, each community may use a different coding vocabulary for the same metadata attribute, in which case, the target community cannot interpret the query involving such an attribute. Yet another important challenge is that each community may (and typically will) have a different patient identifier domain. Querying for the patient identifiers in the target community using patient demographic data may create patient privacy concerns. In this paper, we address each of these challenges and show how they can be handled effectively in a superpeer-based peer-to-peer architecture.