Why Should You Care About Gap Analysis?

By | Published: October 15th, 2013

bridging-gaps-healthcare-integrationMeaningful Use, the changeover to ICD-10, the 2013 HIPAA Final Omnibus Rule, among other drivers, makes it clear that integration is an essential, critical process. How do hospital CIOs and healthcare information exchange (HIE) leaders find cost-effective ways to develop the HL7 interfacing that underlies such critical integration projects?

No matter what the bells and whistles of an integration engine or integration technology, if you cannot accurately scope the interfaces that need to be built, you’ll find yourself behind the eight ball and rolling rapidly downhill. Poor scoping can lead to painful consequences such as extended go-live periods with a rapidly inflating price tag, significant maintenance at increased cost, and unhappy clinician end-users who are unable to access the data they need for appropriate patient care.

Gap Analysis and HL7 Flexibility

Fundamentally, when you’re building an interface, you’re bridging gaps. Gaps – which drive the need for mapping and configuration – occur because the HL7 standard was designed for flexibility. HL7 was built to fit multiple healthcare environments, from hospitals and integrated delivery networks (IDNs), to labs and physician offices, to payer systems. This choice has some advantages. For instance, messaging is independent of system architecture – a huge interoperability plus.  With this flexibility, the HL7 standard not only provides a recommended exchange format, but also provides a framework for powerful capabilities to extend and adapt the standard to real-world use.

100% HL7-Compliant?

But there is a major drawback:  even if two systems are 100% HL7-compliant, they still might not be able to exchange data. These are the data exchange gaps that must be bridged through an interface. HL7 interfaces always require some degree of customization – which is why scoping and mapping are required.

Fortunately, there’s a way to get a handle on gap analysis and its ramification on accurate scoping.  You can automate gap analysis and scoping through interface management software.

And you can help your stakeholders understand why gap analysis and scoping are important to get right. That’s where our white paper, Rethinking HL7 Integration: Start with the Gaps, comes in. Here’s what it covers:

  • The interfacing lifecycle and why scoping is critical
    • Examine the entire interfacing lifecycle
    • The critical role of scoping in the preparatory phase of scoping
    • Interfacing architectures
  • Why gaps occur and what to do about them
    • Why are there gaps?
    • Why they are important
  • The 4 gap types
    • Data structure
    • Data tables
    • Data semantics
    • Z-segments
  • How to conduct a gap analysis
    • Obtain vendor documentation
    • Obtain customer spec/log
    • Document gaps
    • Deliver specification
  • Gap analysis pitfalls and how to avoid them

Integration Governance Goes Beyond the Choice of Interface Engine

With today’s renewed emphasis on integrating the clinical enterprise, healthcare leaders need a thorough understanding of the complete interfacing lifecycle. Good interfacing governance goes beyond the choice of interface engine or integration technology. Today’s volume of interfacing projects requires improved interface management, from the scoping stage onwards.

Download the entire white paper: Rethinking HL7 Integration: Start with the Gaps