by Jeff McGeath, Senior Vice President at Iatric Systems
I was recently asked what the top challenges are for today’s integration projects in healthcare. It’s tough to put your finger on the “top” challenges, but the more I thought about it and talked to my Iatric Systems team, the two top challenges for today’s healthcare integration professional became apparent.
The ability to deliver interfaces that are semantically interoperable has become much more complex in the last five to seven years. Therein lies the first challenge, and it revolves around all of the terminology mapping process that has to take place at interface build time. You see, we can’t just build interface translations and simple maps to manipulate data in an HL7 message any longer. That is not good enough. As the market matures and regulatory pressures increase, emerging goals and standards require hospitals to communicate data among EHRs and other systems in a way that is semantically interoperable. Due to this, integration tool sets and the interface development process are tremendously more complex.
The industry’s response to semantic interoperability has been the introduction of multiple coding systems, not only at the data level, but also the identifier level. Experts now need to know which codes to use and even the code value of the coding system being used — it quickly snowballs. Further complications arise because many EHR systems support localized coding, meaning one hospital can refer to a procedure or item as one name and another facility can use an entirely different name. If these organizations try to share EHR data within a connected community, the clashing codes would require significant resources to resolve.
Terminology isn’t comprehensively mapped within most hospitals, let alone across the industry, therefore integration projects continue to be overly complex with an increasing number of moving parts. The lack of comprehensively mapped terminology means integration experts have to formulate additional plans, further straining project bandwidth.
Integration resource and expert pools have grown especially thin due to recent hyperactivity surrounding healthcare reform and government regulations, such as the HITECH Act. Further, companies constantly bring new technologies to the market, which is great, but it continues to dilute the integration skill set.
New technology creates the second challenge facing healthcare organizations and integration projects today — a very finite set of experienced integration talent. Finding true integration experts has become harder, and those available are pulled in multiple directions.
At Iatric Systems, we have the tooling and experienced staff who have delivered more than 20,000 interface projects to minimize the technical challenges. Our teams have spent the time and effort to build internal knowledge bases, coding system libraries, and have direct lines into staff at the federal regulatory level.
We understand your need for semantically interoperable interfaces — and we understand the complexity, time and talent required for successful integration. We have identified and addressed these challenges and worked to position ourselves in a way to be your most trusted healthcare IT integration partner.
This article originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Iatric Systems Updates! newsletter.