The Top 5 HL7 Interfacing Questions Facing New Hospital CIOs and IT Directors

Here are some of the most common issues I’ve come across when speaking with newly appointed hospital IT leaders faced with interfacing and integration issues.

1. I have hundreds of HL7 interfaces already (I think), and I am being asked to clean house. Where do I start?
Start by inventorying your interfaces. Get a sense of how many interfaces are out there and document the systems they connect.

2. Are my interface consultants providing me with all documentation I am entitled to?
If you don’t have the latest interface documentation, it’s going to impact your ability to support and sustain your interfaces. You need updated documentation every time your interfaces change. If your sub-contractors aren’t providing what you need, you can use currently available technology to generate your own documentation cost effectively.

3. I want to switch to a less expensive interface provider, how can I migrate my HL7 interfaces over quickly?
Again, the trick will be to fully document your interfaces. The technology is available, and you can save significant development costs by getting your migration requirements upfront.

4. I have zero documentation left from my predecessor and now 500+ undocumented interfaces. What can I do?
Put together a list of interfaces. Excel will take you only so far. Look for a solution that will automatically inventory and document your interfaces in a collaboration platform with access across your team and vendors.

5. I have to place an order for a new point to point interface but do not have specifications for my source systems. How can I retrieve what I need?
Don’t let your team spend time hunting down out-of-date documentation. You need a solution that will work with your current-state systems and generate a specification. Look for technology that can easily update your specifications whenever the systems change.

In order to address many of these issues, here are the capabilities to look for:

  • Reverse Engineering: ability to sniff message logs and build out necessary interface specifications for updates, edits or building.
  • Versioning and documentation: support your development culture with technology that versions your interfaces as well as all related test and validation material in one place.
  • Find an engine-agnostic solution: interface engine technology is expensive. Most organizations can’t afford to migrate on a whim. Look for documentation solutions that are able to work with the vast majority of engines and their underlying logs and databases.
  • Collaborative features: ability to have your team or sub-contractors document as they go, right within your IT environment.
  • Overall, adopt a solution that will give control back to you and your staff. After all, you’re the customer, and you’re footing the bill.

Click here to watch a 2-minute video on Interface Lifecycle Management. Sit back and enjoy the ride!