PDF Association Takes On PDF/A in the Healthcare Sector

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While attending the Schliersee Conference recently, the PDF Association founded the “PDF/A in Health Care” Special Interest Group (SIG). During the leading healthcare conference, seven member firms took part in the founding meeting. The SIG’s goal is to promote the subject of PDF/A in the healthcare sector. Its first planned actions are the creation of a white paper on “PDF/A in Health Care” and attendance at this year’s ConHIT healthcare IT industry event.

Bernd Wild, board member of the PDF Association

Bernd Wild, board member of the PDF Association

We learned from many discussions that the PDF/A format is winning more and more acceptance from IT managers in clinics and hospitals.

The healthcare sector’s retention period for medical documents can be 30 years or more. In addition to classical documents such as doctor’s notes, statements and lab reports, other items such as X-ray or tomographic images often need to be kept for a long period of time. Long-term archiving is therefore a hot topic in the healthcare sector.

As an ISO-certified long-term archiving format, PDF/A provides decisive advantages when digitising patients’ files. These include the ability to scan documents in colour, as well as full text capabilities. Any signatures needed can be included in the modern PDF/A format as embedded signatures. Finally, PDF/A can be used as an exchange format between information sources (hospitals, clinics or practices) and information recipients (patients, therapists or doctors) with very little difficulty. The option to convert between PDF/A and XML/CDA is also an important, forward-looking prospect for the healthcare sector in which long-term stability alone is no longer enough.

The Special Interest Group was founded by seven members of the PDF Association: DMI, eHealthOpen, intarsys, LuraTech, OPTIMAL SYSTEMS, secrypt and the SRZ. BancTec will also participate in the SIG as a non-member. The PDF Association welcomes any enterprises with a similar interest in participating in the SIG, regardless of association membership. There will, for example, be a working group meeting on the 7th of March at the OPTIMAL SYSTEMS stand (Hall 3, Stand J18) at CeBIT 2012 from 4:30pm to 6:00.

As its first action, participants will produce the “PDF/A in Health Care” white paper. This will describe the PDF/A format and the requirements for reliable long-term archiving in the healthcare sector. Readers will also be able to learn about usage examples and PDF/A solutions for the healthcare sector.

“We learned from many discussions that the PDF/A format is winning more and more acceptance from IT managers in clinics and hospitals”, explains Bernd Wild, board member of the PDF Association. “With our Special Interest Group, ‘PDF/A in Health Care’, we want to take this trend on board and inform interested parties about the advantages and uses of PDF/A.”

About PDF/A
ISO 19005 (PDF/A) defines requirements to suitably archive documents using the popular PDF format. The International Standard for archive-ready PDF provides specifications that ensure the long-term readability and full-text search functionality of documents regardless of the application software and operating system in which they were originally produced. The advantages of PDF/A are such that only five years after ratification, the standard has already replaced TIFF as the preferred archiving format in numerous international government organizations and industries. The PDF/A Competence Center is the central point of contact within the PDF Association for the PDF/A format. In Autumn 2011, the PDF Association emerged from the PDF/A Competence Center, which was originally founded in 2006. The PDF/A Competence Center is the first and currently the largest division of the PDF Association.

About the PDF Association
Formerly known as the PDF/A Competence Center, the PDF Association is an international organization promoting awareness and adoption of open standards in digital document applications using PDF technology.

The association facilitates networking and communication, and the sharing of expertise and experience with interested parties worldwide. The current membership includes over 100 enterprises and numerous individual subject-matter experts from more than 20 countries.

The management board includes industry leaders from callas software GmbH, Compart AG, Crawford Technologies Inc., intarsys consulting GmbH, LuraTech Europe GmbH and NetCentric US. The association’s chairman is Olaf Drümmer, CEO of callas software GmbH. Duff Johnson, President of NetCentric US is the deputy chairman.


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