Connecting disparate EMR systems can be costly and complicated, particularly for healthcare organizations with small or no internal IT departments.
The interface engines that healthcare organizations commonly use to ensure interoperability can be prohibitively expensive and incredibly complex if you lack the financial capital and expertise to purchase, implement and operate them efficiently.
You could take a piecemeal approach, connecting systems as resources permit. You might even investigate software-as-a-service that would allow you to make smaller, recurring payments for the necessary technology rather than paying a large amount upfront.
But you could compromise care and undermine revenue integrity in the meantime because neither frontline clinicians or back-office administrators would have all of the information they would need to effectively treat patients and promptly bill for the care that they receive. Nor would you necessarily be able to afford the personnel to maintain your integrated systems, which could potentially jeopardize their reliability.
You do have another option though, which takes you a step beyond Software-as-a-Service.
In providing you ongoing access to the technical experts you need as well the technology, hosted healthcare integration is Solution-as-a-Service.
Hosted integration is a viable alternative to purchasing and maintaining your own interface engine because you can control your data at a fraction of the cost. So, it may be a solution for you to consider if an interoperability challenge arises that requires integration, like if a larger organization that you work with upgrades its EMR or you replace an internal lab system.
Five questions to ask before deciding whether hosted healthcare integration might be right for you:
1) What is Hosted Integration?
A hosted healthcare integration solution centers upon an in-the-cloud interface engine that securely connects and exchanges data with the necessary ancillary systems from your organization’s EMR.
With hosted integration, you invest in individual interfaces as a Solution-as-a-Service, which includes Software-as-a-Service but also provides the additional benefit of having expert consultants to test, deploy and support. You integrate the interfaces with hundreds of downstream systems and send data between them as needed and desired. You also have ongoing access to experts and continuous technical support.
2) Why Should I Consider Hosted Integration?
You may have a limited staff, finite budget and multiple “priority 1” projects. You must do more with less--and do it faster to maximize the return on your investment.
Yet you still face the same pressures as large healthcare organizations. Clinicians need complete information to treat patients effectively and administrators need complete information to collect reimbursements promptly. So, all of your EMR systems must work together seamlessly.
3) What are Some Benefits of Hosted Integration?
Hosted integration reduces costs by improving interoperability and streamlining integrated workflows. You control your data without relying on vendors to connect systems at their pace and for their fees. You also eliminate the costly overhead of on-premise physical infrastructure, maintenance and monitoring.
Access to experts is beneficial as well. You can avoid training time by relying on your hosted integration provider’s resources instead of calling upon internal team members. This saves you money and allows you to reap the benefits of increased efficiency sooner.
You also could ramp up for internal projects more easily by calling upon the resources of your hosted integration solution provider instead of incurring a big bill for a costly capital outlay or personnel boost. You could increase efficiency even further by implementing best practices learned from experts who have worked with large, respected healthcare organizations.
4) What Factors Should I Consider When Exploring Hosted Integration?
Consider many of the same factors that you would with any integration solution.
- Connectivity: You should be able to connect to and collect data from files, databases, and other interfaces.
- Data Transformations: Any combination of transformation from the native format of the source to another format in the target system should be possible with hosted integration.
- Data Migration: You should be able to move data between any storage type or system.
- Security: Your hosted integration solution should be able to leverage the native security systems of the source and target plus plug the holes with its own secure connectivity and transformation.
- Integrity: Your hosted integration solution should provide you with all of the tools you need to audit and monitor data integrity.
- Governance: Control access to systems.
5) What is the Best Way to Implement a Hosted Integration Solution?
After choosing a hosted healthcare integration Solution-as-a-Service based on factors like cost savings and expertise, you should follow each of the steps of an integration process.
- Project Preparation: Research, scope, estimate, and plan the early tasks that need to be completed for the design and implementation activities to commence.
- Business Blueprints: Chart the business processes surrounding the target system.
- Realization: Configure the integration pathways per the requirements and specifications created in the Business Blueprint phase. Test to ensure that the specified integration routines perform and interact as designed. Complete unit testing, functional testing and mapped record testing.
- Final Preparation: Achieve business-ready data for production.
- Integrated Testing: Your interface must work within the healthcare workflows with all other interfaces integrated together.
- Go Live and Support: Commence cut-over during the Go Live phase.
Connecting disparate EMR systems doesn’t need to be costly and complicated. Hosted integration can provide you a cost-effective alternative to purchasing and maintaining your own interface engine. Start by asking these five questions to see if a hosted healthcare integration solution could be right for you.
Additional Integration Resources:
- EHR Integration: Top 5 Reasons to Implement a SaaS Hosted Integration Solution
- EHR Integration: The Top 5 Reasons to Implement an Effective Enterprise Testing Strategy
- EHR Glossary of Terms | Integration
- EHR Integration - 7 Steps to Ensure Success