Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise Europe (IHE-Europe) has announced it has been joined by two more countries and two European companies.

The international organisation, which focuses on promoting interoperability and integration through the use standards and runs the annual hands-on European ‘Connectathon’, held this year in Bordeaux.

IHE Suisse, IHE Turkey have joined as country members, increasing the number of national IHE Initiatives from seven to nine.

Dutch firm Forcare and Germany’s VISUS become the first SME firms to join IHE-Europe.

IHE-Europe says that the new SME members are a consequence of the newly-revised membership model for vendors, which now favours SMEs and particularly those that take part in the European Connectathon.

Forcare is a Dutch-based SME employing about 10 people which develops profiles and establishes projects in the Netherlands and Belgium. Forcare has been coordinating the industry team for the European epSOS project on behalf of IHE-Europe.

VISUS, meanwhile, is a company with 70 employees based in Germany which develops healthcare software.

During its General Assembly last week, IHE-Europe re-elected Peter Kuenecke as vendor co-chair for another two-year mandate.

In a further announcement, IHE Europe has announced the appointment of Karima Bourquard, to the newly created post of director of interoperability.

Bourquard will monitor the EU projects where IHE is involved, including the European Patient Smart Open Service (epSOS) project, the Healthcare Interoperability Testing and Conformance Harmonisation (HITCH), and Calliope, which has increased the visibility of the IHE user-plus-vendor methodology.

“Grassroots work over the past years has proven the efficiency of the IHE user-plus-vendor methodology. As a result, IHE and this methodology have gained more visibility and will undoubtedly bring major contributions to European projects on interoperability,” said Peter Kuenecke.