International Patient Summary: Cross-Border Interoperability on a Global Scale

An International Patient Summary (IPS) embodies electronic health record exchanges at an international level.

Designed to support patient mobility abroad, an IPS provides a standardized set of basic medical data within an electronic health record at a global level—including the most important clinical facts required to ensure safe and secure healthcare in emergent situations.

Basic Information About You at the Point of Care

The idea is simple: Take a list of information that summarizes basic characteristics about you and your heath, such as name, date of birth, insurance number, contact details, major health issues, allergies, clinical conditions, medication list and make it accessible at the point of care for care professionals in a manner they can trust, linguistically understand, and easily integrate into local practice.

The IPS save both patients and providers time and help prevent human errors by providing accurate information regardless of language. And innovative solutions based on International Patient Summary can empower global citizens to actively collect, manage and update their personal health data and help them to manage their wellbeing.

Enabling Innovation Within and Beyond Hospital Walls

Imagine that every time you see a doctor, a nurse, or you sign up for a health app, it takes a couple of clicks and all necessary information is there. This information could be integrated into the EHR system of the healthcare provider, or carried with you on your mobile phone—which is especially useful if there is a disaster, emergency or any other unplanned care.

There are some projects awarded for their innovative use of International Patient Summary by the EU-funded Trillium Project that aims to scale EU and U.S. cooperation on IPS. Following the footsteps of the project, the next possible steps could venture into new territories like start-up toolkits to accelerate implementation for the mobile world or advance the link between clinical- and patient-reported outcomes—or even a scenario of modelling, visualizing and interacting with synthetic IPSs and population health data.

Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration to Boost Interoperability

The idea of IPS is the result of a memorandum of understanding between the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the European Commission that focused on health-related information and communication technologies. Since then, key international standardizing organizations, including the European Standardization Committee (CEN), HL7 International, IHE International, SNOMED and ISO, joined various initiatives and projects on both sides of the Atlantic with stakeholders across the ecosystem to develop the necessary specifications and implementation guidelines and are now working toward further adoption.

A recent development includes the IHE Profile for the International Patient Summary to promote adoption not just for the original use case on cross-border or cross-emergency and unplanned care, but to an additional three scenarios: scheduled care, cross-border care and within-border care.

Come and join me and key stakeholders from standardizing organizations, governments and solution providers at HIMSS20 and at the International Patient Summary: Cross-Border Interoperability on a Global Scale Session to learn about innovative ideas using the International Patient Summary and exchange views on how can we accelerate adoption further. Click here for the session details.

As a European, I am familiar with the efforts to align the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure—that enables EHR exchanges within the EU—IPS data sets with the CEN IPS standard, and I can’t wait to learn about the projects in the U.S. and other global initiatives that can help bring us closer to a patient summary that truly travels with us wherever we go.


March 9 – 13, 2020 | Orange County Convention Center | Orlando, Florida

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