The Costs of HL7 Interfaces

In the past on this blog, we’ve addressed the top data integration challenges as well as the ROI of a results interface. Recently, Health Management Technology featured a related article on the economics of interfaces. The key points from the article were as follows:

    • Opportunity Cost
    • True Investment
    • Integration is not simple
    • Pitfalls of proprietary
    • Features matter
    • Think of the future



The last point of the article is one that is often overlooked when evaluating pursuing an interface. We have seen this a great deal recently in supporting data conversions for client’s switching EHR vendors and also for conversion of interfaces to support Hospital LIS (Laboratory Information System) and RIS (Radiology Information System) vendor changes.

When we scope out conversions, one of the first questions we pose is if there are any existing interfaces with the EHR being sunset? If they are, we immediately inquire as to the expectations of end users having these interfaces in the new system – especially with regard to the interfacing with the practice management system. It is likely that users are going to want to be able to interface demographics and appointments from their existing PM system if that is not changing. Additionally, with regard to existing result interfaces with the current EHR, as part of the conversion, contingency plans for switching to paper results may need to be explored as a stop-gap solution until interfaced results are received in the new system.

Likewise, hospitals may decide to change their laboratory radiology system, or their radiology information system. This impacts downstream subscribers to that data – namely the clinics and providers in the ambulatory setting which send their orders to the hospital for fulfillment and currently receive results electronically. This is especially pronounced with radiology integration, where an ADT interface and an Imagelink interface may be involved in addition to the result interface. Again, a question that looms is who is responsible for paying for the costs associated with migrating vendors for a lab or rad information system and associated interfaces?

We recently had one client that put development of interfaces with the ambulatory EHR on hiatus until the hospital lab decided whether they were switching lab vendors. They felt like they didn’t want to sink costs into integrations only to have them rendered obsolete months down the road when the hospital made a vendor switch.

We’d love to hear other groups experiences with vendor migration and the associated costs of migration of interfaces. Share your stories and experiences on the Allscripts Interface Developer Forum.  You can also contact us below for more information:

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