By James Proctor, Director of Integration Services
When reviewing the state of integration engines in the healthcare vertical it is easy to underestimate the value and criticality of the nature of such technology. We are often of two minds when looking at these, depending on the size of the organization where it is to be implemented. From a base standpoint, there are a few items that are universal to this technology. For instance, all organizations have a need for enhanced security that meets their own state or federal regulations as well as the guidelines distributed by annual security audits or other governing agencies. In this same vein, all organizations, regardless of size, not only require Integration Engines, but require all their technology to be reliable and with high availability.
Around the clock in the healthcare industry, patients are presenting, doctors are operating and ordering, and clinical staff is functioning. It is critical that these workers be backed by technology that is on the job when they are. Finally, all organizations share a need for cost reduction. The upfront cost of purchasing and implementing a technology such as an Integration Engine does not initially result in a reduction of costs, but long term can result in a net reduction in operating costs as new products are brought online and version upgrades commence. By reusing your purchased technology and reducing maintenance costs across the organization, the initial investment should be recouped in just a few years.
There are differences, however, between how a smaller organization versus a larger enterprise will approach the technology of Integration Engines and how each might view and prioritize their needs.
For smaller organizations, where resources may be limited, one of the key deciding factors is the ease of maintenance and resource utilization. In general, smaller organizations have access to smaller pools of resources – whether it be technology, capital, or human. In this regard, it is important that the technology at work is easy to use and requires less annual maintenance to keep in place – more of the “set it and forget it” technologies. This allows for other high-priority tasks to take precedence within the IT organization.
This is not to say that larger organizations have no interest in ease of maintenance, because they do. However, they likely have access to greater pools of resources, which may contain system experts. In most cases they would have the luxury to assign specialized individuals to specific tasks, leaving more bandwidth of usability difficulties.
For a larger organization at the Enterprise level, while these items are all of importance, one of the key indicators for them is the ability to quickly and easily scale and expand to meet business needs. This may mean the easing of absorption and merging of healthcare entities as a common factor. It could take the form of expanding with additional wings at facilities and sites. By having technology that can rapidly meet the needs of the business, your organization can enable efficiency from the standpoint of both technology and manpower.
With a larger organization it is typical for co-location or cloud hosting to be in effect, which brings forth the requirement of monitoring tools and capabilities. Where small organizations will likely have people who can check on systems on a varied schedule, larger organizations typically dedicate less time to the physical observation of systems and rely on automated attendants or alerting functionality to warn them of potential adverse conditions. Integration Engines provide a great point in the chain of systems for providing those alerts, whether that extends to connectivity or availability.
Ultimately, any organization can benefit from each of these key indicators, but the size of the organization, and the resource pools of people and technology, heavily influence the deciding factors on what sorts of an Integration Engine platform fits their business needs. There is a wealth of offerings in the market today, each with specific strengths that can meet some or all those needs. This makes it vitally important that each organization review their business case individually, as they may discover themselves with a mentality that leans towards a smaller organization or a larger one. An Integration Engine still has a role to play in either scenario.