How to be smart with integrations

Brad Storm By Brad Storm, VP Technologies & Integrations
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November 27, 2018

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Integrations are the best way to maximize the value of interactive systems. Many hospitals have grown leery of integrations having experienced budgets or timelines being eaten away in projects gone awry. However, incorporating a few key integrations usually creates a better user experience and more efficiencies—encouraging adoption.

With a proper planning, integrating doesn’t have to be a negative experience. A good platform provider should shoulder most of the integration burden and a well-built platform makes it easy to expand system functionality by adding more integrations over time. Here’s some ways to keep integrations under control.

Plan to expand.

Embrace a strategy of ever-increasing interoperability by growing systems, not silos.  These systems can provide more value collectively than individually.  Plan for integrations by budgeting early for key use integrations, including a HL7 ADT feed for systems which leverage patient info as well as an HL7 or XML interface back into the EHR.  FHIR and XML/Web API integrations, file transfers, database reads/writes are other options. Building a few broad use integrations early makes it easy to add on functionality over time.

Don’t reinvent the wheel!

As customized integrations can be very expensive to build or purchase, consider interface messages which are already designed to pass the data to and from the EHR. Many common integrations are based on HL7 standards – ADT, Orders, Results, Schedule/procedure info, Discharge info/progress notes/CCD.  HL7 messaging requires little-to-no customizations to move data between clinical systems.

Don’t DIY.

IPS vendors have experience integrating with EHRs and 3rd-party systems.  They know your systems and their systems.  Ask for integration references with evaluating IPS vendors to determine their true integration abilities. Learn what 3rd-party integrators charge for similar integrations so you aren’t overpaying your vendors for interface work.

Testing one, two.

Instead of spending your time writing integrations, spend it testing integrations.  Test as many different interface messages as reasonably allowed, and always watch for proper processing of special characters.  Issues found in testing will save you time in production.

While integrations choices are not a now or never, all or nothing decision, there is a lot to gain from planning in the beginning to build a highly functional future-proof system. Seamless, connected technology gets used and leveraged. It isn’t hard to achieve with a little planning.

SONIFI Health has built over 30 types of integrations including interfaces to EHRs, dietary systems, building automation systems, voice assistants and more!  

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