Posted on behalf of Jeff Ford, Senior Director of Client Services

The push for COVID-19 testing is at the forefront of the healthcare industry right now. Nationwide daily tests total more than 700,000. These tests are carried out at pharmacies, pop-up testing sites, urgent care facilities, and, most importantly to you, hospitals. Many vendors have been able to develop or retrofit current analyzers to meet these urgent needs. The challenge is getting the results from the analyzer into your HCIS.

There should be a simple solution, perhaps a button for you to push – unfortunately that doesn’t exist. As with all integration projects, this one has its own share of hurdles. There is no single set of standards for connection protocols. Some device companies are looking to take advantage of the latest technologies like FHIR and APIs, while others are adopting the philosophy “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and sticking with technologies like TCP/IP or sFTP. Message encoding is another differentiator – are they using XML? HL7? Something proprietary? Even once you solve the connectivity problems and understand the language they’re speaking, how do you address the message formatting? Does it meet the strict specifications of your HCIS?

All of these complications highlight the need for a powerful Integration Engine between your COVID-19 analyzer and your HCIS. When selecting an engine, it’s important to keep these non-standard integration cases in mind. Your engine needs to be adaptable and have the ability to convert one message type to another. The most important factor might be your engine’s ability ingest these messages in the first place.

Without an integration engine, your only option is to work directly with your HCIS on creating a customized interface. This typically involves spending hours on the phone working to understand the issue, weeks of waiting for the customizations, and months of back and forth testing between your analyzer vendor and your HCIS. And that’s only if they agree to build the customized interface in the first place. An Interface Engine eliminates all of those steps. It allows you to take information from the analyzer in whatever format and protocol it wants to be sent and translates it into the language your HCIS wants to receive. It also allows you to reuse the inbound interfaces you have already set up with your HCIS rather than purchasing new ones.

COVID-19 analyzers are just the latest example of a sudden demand for non-standard integration. As integration engines become stronger and more adaptable, more of these projects will present themselves. The ability to quickly build and handle these problems via your integration engine rather than continuously get frustrated by having to troubleshoot directly with your HCIS will lead to incredible savings in your time, money, and resources.

To learn more about the Summit Exchange integration engine, or our flexible Integration Services, contact us today!