Extracting Maximum Value from Your Artifacts

By | Published: September 9th, 2014

Tip 25 in the Interoperability Tip Series

This is our last tip in the Interoperability Tip Series. Read the entire series here.

The fact is that the value of your interface-related artifacts increases over time. While they’re useful for development and go-live, they are essential down the road, in a year or two or more. Follow the 4 best practices for extracting maximum value from your artifacts and get the most from them.

1. Work with real-world messages.

When you’re developing deliverables such [...]

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Why Document HL7 Profiles (or Specs)? Part 2

By | Published: August 27th, 2014

Tip 24 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Read Part 1 here

In our previous tip we asked: why document HL7 profiles and specs. In beginning to answer that question, we explained that profile documentation is critical for troubleshooting and maintenance.

Another benefit to documenting profiles is that it streamlines processes when you are performing a system upgrade. Let’s say you’re changing or upgrading your pharmacy system – that change affects the interface of any other system that communicates with the pharmacy system. Imagine [...]

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Why Document Your HL7 Profiles and Specs? Part 1

By | Published: August 18th, 2014

Tip 23 in the Interoperability Tip Series

The last few tips have been about what to document and how to document. This one and the next explain why documenting your HL7 profiles and specs is so important.

When you document your HL7 profiles and specs, you can much more easily troubleshoot issues and tweak configuration once your interface is live. Plus, if you created electronic – i.e., machine readable – versions of your profiles, you can use them in your monitoring. For [...]

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Managing Interoperability and Interfacing Assets

By | Published: August 7th, 2014

Tip 22 in the Interoperability Tip Series

In the previous tip, we talked about documenting your interfaces and workflows – especially important for HIE organizations. This tip is all about our recommendations for what to look for when you’re planning out how to organize your assets – documentation, requirements, test scenarios, and the rest.

4 Capabilities to Seek Out

Visualize all of your interoperability assets, from multiple interface engines to the interfaces themselves.
Cover the entire interface lifecycle.
Access a library of interfacing assets and [...]

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Documenting Interfaces and Workflows for HIEs

By | Published: July 30th, 2014

Tip 21 in the Interoperability Tip Series

This tip is especially relevant for Healthcare Information Exchanges (HIEs), regardless of whether your exchange is internal to an IDN or if it connects multiple regional stakeholders from community hospitals to physician practices.

Some interface engines let you view workflow within the engine. But what happens with external systems, such as an HIE transmitting to an internal engine, or multiple systems from different providers connecting across a region? Keeping track of workflow is a [...]

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Interfacing Workflows: Start with a Spreadsheet?

By | Published: July 24th, 2014

Tip 20 in the Interoperability Tip Series

In our previous tip, we explained why you need to map processes and workflows. Many developers list their interfaces and workflows in a spreadsheet. You’ll find examples of what to track in the HL7 Interface Asset Template here.

While a spreadsheet provides a good start, you need to go beyond to capture the details and interconnections to capture a complete picture of your interfacing workflows. After all, in most hospital and HIE environments, you’ll be [...]

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Why You Need to Map Processes and Workflows

By | Published: July 22nd, 2014

Tip 19 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Throughout the Interoperability Tip Series, we’ve stressed the need to complement the message structure and and content details from HL7 profiles with good process and workflow maps for future interfacing asset management. Earlier in the Interoperability Tip Series, Tip 4 emphasized the importance of mapping out the message process and workflow from the very beginning to kick off the planning of an interoperability project.

If you’ve documented your systems and taken the time to map [...]

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HL7 Messages – Don’t Fall into the Beginner’s Trap

By | Published: July 18th, 2014

Tip 18 in the Interoperability Series

What’s The Big Deal?

If you’re just getting your feet wet with clinical and medical applications, you might think: “What’s the big deal? I’ll just hit Google for some sample HL7 messages and get started that way.” 

Don’t do that! If you do, you’ll get some basic structures right – like pipes and carets. But you won’t have any information about the interface you’re trying to build: the message types it uses, the segments and fields, positions, [...]

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Creating HL7 Test Messages? Consider De-identification

By | Published: July 10th, 2014

Tip 17 in the Interoperability Tip Series

HL7 Data for Testing

In last week’s tip on HL7 test reporting, we suggested that you use production data for your testing. That said, you obviously can’t use real production data. You need to find a way to remove protected health information (PHI).

That’s where a technique known as de-identification can help. You keep the clinical workflow in the messages, but you remove patient identifiers and replace them with fake values. You can also replace [...]

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HL7 Test Reporting

By | Published: July 3rd, 2014

Tip 16 in the Interoperability Tip Series

The past few tips have covered HL7 testing and test automation. This one covers what you should do with HL7 test reporting.

Creating Test Reports    

As part of the testing process, you’ll want to run reports. The reports should document the following: 

The number of times the test was run, as well as test duration – if you’re sending messages, this helps you understand performance.
Test results, including positive validations and failures.
The messages that were used; note [...]

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Create a Healthcare Data Test Environment

By | Published: June 19th, 2014

Tip 15 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Once you’ve developed a test plan and test scenarios, you need to configure your interface in a test environment.

Healthcare Data test vs. production

What do we mean by test environment? Essentially, another instance of your interface engine, along with simulations of the clinical systems you’ll be interfacing.

It’s important that you do your testing in a test environment, not in a production environment. It’s easy to think it can’t hurt to test in a live [...]

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Data Workflows and Interface Testing

By | Published: June 13th, 2014

Tip 14 in the Interoperability Tip Series

In last week’s tip, we talked about capturing workflows.

Here’s why. Before you can conduct any  interface testing, you must understand what to expect of your workflows. This should include common workflows – such as a patient being transferred – involving the use of the products that will be interfaced.

For example, in many hospitals, emergency department and in-patient ADTs are two separate systems. A new patient that comes through the emergency department would be registered [...]

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Interface Test Types

By | Published: June 5th, 2014

Tip 13 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Last week in Tip 12, we covered when, why, and what to test when you’re working with interfaces. This week, we’re looking at the different interface test types a team needs to perform.

Make sure that your tests cover your interoperability requirements. These will vary depending on the systems you’re working with. Be sure to also cover the following:

1. Workflow

Confirm the interface engine handles your standard workflows as expected.  Just as a reminder, workflows are [...]

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Healthcare Interface Testing: When, Why, and What to Test

By | Published: May 30th, 2014

Tip 12 in the Interoperability Tip Series

In tips from the past few weeks, we covered two requirements-related artifacts analysts must create: 1) profiles or specs and 2) gap analyses, which include mapping tables.

In this tip, we look at testing an interface. And see how it doesn’t have to be an exercise in frustration.

When to Test: 3 Phases

You need to perform healthcare interface testing at 3 different phases in the HL7 interface lifecycle: during configuration and development; during the formal validation [...]

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Interface Gap Analysis: 3 Reasons Why You Can’t Skip It

By | Published: May 23rd, 2014

Tip 11 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Last week, you learned about doing a gap analysis – mapping differences  between the systems you’re interfacing. Today, we’ll cover why you need this artifact.

1. Interface Requirements

No interface matters unless those coding the engine can accurately scope the interfaces they need to build. You need a way to communicate who does what on an interface. Is the vendor changing a field? Is the interface engine handling the field transformation? It’s critical that you pin [...]

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How to Develop an Interface Gap Analysis Document

By | Published: May 15th, 2014

Tip 10 in the Interoperability Tip Series

In the previous tip, we covered specifications. Another key requirements or scoping document you’ll need is a gap analysis. In this tip, we discuss how to develop an interface gap analysis document.

Many analysts develop their own gap analysis templates in Microsoft Word or Excel. To fill in templates, they look at messages, run queries when they can, and manually document their findings. This can be a fairly onerous process if they’re basing the analysis [...]

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How to Develop an HL7 Interface Specification

By | Published: May 9th, 2014

Tip 9 in the Interoperability Tip Series

In Tip 8, we explained what an HL7 interface specification should include. In this tip, learn how to develop an HL7 interface specification, which you’ll need for each interface you develop.

(A quick note about terms. There is no standard term for a spec. Some people call them a profile, conformance profile, schema. We use the term profile or HL7 profile in our software. We use the terms specification, conformance profile, and profile interchangeably in [...]

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What Should An HL7 Interface Specification Include?

By | Published: April 30th, 2014

Tip 8 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Critical Elements in an HL7 Interface Specification

These are critical elements a developer needs to create a interface that works (almost) out of the box with minimal testing. The more accurate the HL7 interface specification, the faster it’ll be implemented – and the less costly the work will be.

1. Interface nameHow do you refer to your interface in your integration environment? Some organizations manage thousands of interfaces. If you’ve got 10 or 20 interfaces, no [...]

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Are You Using These Interfacing Project Assets?

By | Published: April 24th, 2014

Tip 7 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Communicating These Needs to Leadership

These are the most important assets you’ll need when you’re working on creating new interfaces or converting existing ones from one system to another. You’ll need to create them manually, or automate this work via interface lifecycle software.

Why These Assets?

Besides making sure that you have complete requirements so that you can accurately scope a project, you need to make sure you have all the parts and piece lined up and [...]

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Interoperability, Negotiation, and Culture

By | Published: April 17th, 2014

Tip 6 in the Interoperability Tip Series

This tip is for hospital or provider analysts and team leads.

You’ve got a firm grasp of the technical ins and outs of system and application interfacing. Because you’ve got the background, you know that contractual and cultural issues can affect your team’s ability to deliver on time and on budget. 

Make sure these issues are on the table with your leadership, ideally during negotiation before a deal is signed. Your leadership will thank you for [...]

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Laying the Foundation for Interoperability

By | Published: April 10th, 2014

Tip 5 in the Interoperability Tip Series

9 Critical Questions You Need to Ask Your Clinical System and Interface Vendors

Like our last two tips, this week’s tip is geared to hospital teams asking their vendors the right questions. Vendors who are on the ball will have the answers at their fingertips.

Why Should Health System Leadership Care About This?

These lay the foundation for interoperability. They are the basic format and content scoping questions that kick off each and every interfacing project. Your [...]

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Interoperability Project Planning?

By | Published: April 3rd, 2014

Tip 4 in the Interoperability Tip Series

5 Questions for HIT Vendors and Internal Interfacing Teams

Like last week’s healthcare data interoperability tip, this week’s tip is geared to hospital teams asking their vendors the right questions.

Why Should Health System Leadership Care About This?

These are the basic mapping and workflow questions that kick off the planning for an interoperability project. Your teams will work with your vendors to answer these questions for every system they work with, and for most of the [...]

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Healthcare Data – Are Your Teams Answering These 6 Questions?

By | Published: March 27th, 2014

Tip 3 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Work in a health system or for a provider organization? This tip on healthcare data is especially important for you.

If you work for a vendor, read this tip to understand what’s on the minds of your customers.

Why This Tip Matters to Leadership

Health system CIOs, this is the work your interfacing and interoperability team performs everyday. Their jobs revolve around answering these questions. The questions you need to ask your team lead are:

In getting the [...]

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Interoperability & Healthcare Information Systems

By | Published: March 20th, 2014

Tip 2 in the Interoperability Tip Series

Data and Information Challenges

Learn how this tip boils down to speed and dollars.

In Tip 1 of our Interoperability Tip Series, we talked about the HL7 interface standards and their 3 challenges.

Dig deeper, and you find that underlying challenge with interoperability in healthcare information systems is at – you guessed it — the information level.

To tackle the challenge of interoperability within healthcare information systems, analysts need to ask: What information is needed by whom, when, [...]

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HL7 Interface Standards – 3 Challenges

By | Published: March 13th, 2014

Introducing the Interoperability Tips Series from Caristix

If you’ve seen our HL7 Survival Guide, you know it’s chockablock full of valuable information for interoperability and HL7 projects. (If you haven’t seen the HL7 Survival Guide, get a copy here). We’re starting a series of brief snippets and actionable tips based on learnings from the Guide.

Use these tips to get your interoperability projects up and running, educate leadership on interoperability, and sell your vision.

Here’s the first tip.

Reading time: about 2 minutes

Tip 1: [...]

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