Getting Your Message Across: The Definition of Interoperability

Posted on Behalf of Katie Jankowski, Implementation Engineer

Similar to the many different languages around the world, healthcare interoperability comes in many forms from different vendors and HCIS systems. Hospitals and healthcare organizations alike are often times faced with needing message translation for other systems to be able to decipher their information.

This message translation can amount to many different things depending on the project implementation, including:

  • HCIS Provider mnemonics aren’t the same as the receiving vendor’s system mnemonics
    • These mnemonics would need to be mapped accordingly so that the vendor receives their mnemonics as opposed to the HCIS mnemonics
  • Laboratory vendor needs the order number in a different field than initially sent
    • The order number would need to be mapped to a different field in the message
  • Microbiology vendor doesn’t support receiving comments in certain segments
    • These comments would need to be removed from the message or mapped to another segment within the message
  • Other vendor doesn’t utilize the same patient account/medical record numbers as the HCIS
    • These patient account/medical record numbers would need to be mapped accordingly so that the other vendor receives their own identifiers for patients
  • Radiology vendor for organization A shouldn’t receive the same results as organization B
    • The respective results should be filtered based off of type of test or organization information

SAM, Summit Apex Mapper, is Summit’s tool for message translation and is conveniently located within Summit’s integration products (Express Connect, Care Exchange, and Summit Exchange). This tool can accommodate all of the above scenarios, and much more.

This tool is compatible with, and not limited to, integrating with SQL and Microsoft Access, using VBScript, deleting and creating entire segments, creating and manipulating variables, sending emails, and utilizing mathematical operations.

Similar to the mathematical order of operations, SAM has an order of operations as well. At a high level, this tool features data manipulation, PASS filters, and FAIL filters for each message transmission. The order of operations within SAM is:

  1. Process any FAIL filters (processes filters to check if message should fail)
  2. Process any PASS filters (processes filters to check if message should pass)
  3. Message data manipulation (processes all map commands to modify message content before sending the message through the respective interface)

Another feature of SAM is the ability to test a sample message real-time, allowing for users to copy/paste or upload a sample message into SAM and test any new commands. The benefit for this testing is that SAM highlights any field changes in red so that the user can easily identify any changes in message content. Along with this feature, SAM also has a runtime tab that shows the output message state and variable state for each step of the commands within the map. This can help when troubleshooting why/how a message didn’t transmit as you’d expect.

Lastly, documentation is key. Within SAM, the user has the ability to document in layman’s terms exactly what a particular command is accomplishing which can help user’s easily understand the purpose of each interface.

Katie Blog pic

If your hospital organization is struggling to successfully integrate with multiple vendors and/or needs assistance with message translation – Summit is always up for a new challenge and would love to help get your message across!

For more information on Summit’s products and SAM, please visit our website at

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