As previously discussed in our comparison of point-to-point vs interface engine connectivity, as healthcare networks grow, so does the need for more robust interoperability. When selecting an interface engine, there are several areas of focus to consider. Intersystems, an Integration Engine company, offers some great tips and tools for finding potential candidates to handle your integration needs. They suggest looking at the following categories in order to properly assess whether or not an interface engine will be capable of effectively meeting your organization’s needs:
- Ease/effectiveness of interface development
- Easy/effectiveness of system management
- Quality of support
- Robustness and ease of use of analytics
- Business growth
Does your interface engine have a plan for minimizing system downtime should an emergency occur? Should data be lost in an emergency, what sort of plan is in place to recover/retain susceptible data? Does the company have a history of exemplary performance in the industry? What do others in the same field say about this interface engine? Do you have any contacts you could reach out to for a word of mouth recommendation about the quality of the software? Does the interface engine guarantee the delivery of their messages?
Is the interface engine capable of handling your organization’s level of traffic today, and are they capable of handling the message load of the future?
Ease of interface development
Is there a simple, consistent graphic development environment that is used? Is it possible to create the HL7 Interfaces without intimate knowledge of certain programming languages? Is there the ability for sophisticated users to extend functionality of the system should there be unorthodox interface needs? Is the ability to route messages to different destinations based on “rules” (content in the messages or the type of message)? Does the interface engine have compatibility with several types of standards (HL7, XML, X12, SOAP, etc.)?
Ease of management
Are there dashboards available for viewing system statuses at a glance? Are there systems for automated alerts via email, phone, or other communication avenues for various reasons? Does the interface engine have the ability to aggregate, analyze, and report on messages flowing through the system without using external software? Can users stop, start, and upgrade individual interfaces while the system is running? Can users track and trace messages as they move through the system in order to assess how the messages change over time and how long processes take?
Quality of support
Are the staff of your integration company knowledgeable, dedicated, responsive, and experienced? Do they offer support in your time zone during your operating hours?
Designed for the future
Is there support for a wide range of communication standards and development technologies? Is the engine specifically designed for creating connected systems in healthcare? Are business activity monitoring and business intelligence capabilities available? Is there a database management system for the stores of messages and data? Is there end-to-end management?
Does the engine handle a wide variety of formatting standards and delivery methods? Does the system handle a wide variety of protocols and profiles that are becoming more common in healthcare? Does the system support a wide variety of B2B standards?
Can the interface engine analyze real time information from all your sources in an easy-to-access and understandable way? Are messages being stored and can you usefully search those messages to find insights and valuable information for your business?
Is the business growing and getting better? Will your interface engine keep growing and building alongside you? Do they have a positive track record, a history of innovation, and a focus on backwards compatibility? The solution you choose should be able to meet the changing demands of the industry for at least the next 10-15 years.
With all this being said, it’s important that a healthcare organization have a team of experienced, flexible, thoughtful, and prepared healthcare professionals to complement your choice of integration engine. Galen’s integration services team is a group of talented professionals that are fluent in HL7, Orion RhapsodyTM, Allscripts ConnectRTM, MirthTM, and SQL. They have worked in small clinics and large hospital networks alike, and always work with the organization to find a solution that works best for them. If you’re working with one of these interface engines and you have a solution that needs developing, please visit our Integration Services to learn more.
Corporation, Intersystems. Nine Questions to Ask Before Replacing an Interface Engine (n.d.): n. pag. http://www.intersystems.com/assets/Nine_Questions-6fe215919b0e9e89d0e6e07182132a4f.pdf.
Health, Corepoint. What Is Your Healthcare Interface Approach? (n.d.): n. pag. http://www.corepointhealth.com/sites/default/files/whitepapers/healthcare-clinical-interface-solution.pdf.