Role of an Integration Engine in Large and Small Enterprises

Posted on behalf of James Proctor, Director, 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 the base standpoint, there are a few items that are universal to this technology. For instance, all organizations have the need for enhanced security that meets either their own state or federal regulations and also the guidelines distributed as part of annual security audits or other governing agencies. In this same vein, all organizations, regardless of size, require not only their Integration Engines, but all their technology to be reliable with high availability. Around the clock in the Healthcare industry, patients are presenting, and Doctors are operating and ordering all while the clinical staff are functioning, so it is critical that they 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 in costs but long term, represents 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 is intended to be recouped in just a few years.
There are differences, however, between how a smaller organization will approach the technology of Integration engines versus how a larger enterprise might be viewing and prioritizing 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, either technology, capital or human. In this regard, it is important that the technology at work provide ease to use and more “set it and forget it” technology that requires far less annual maintenance to keep in place. This allows for other tasks of importance to take their precedence within the IT organization.
This is not to say that larger organizations have no interest in ease of maintenance, they simply have access to greater pools of resources, which may contain system experts. They may have the luxury to specialize individuals to tasks, allowing for a 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 rapidly and easily scale and expand to meet business needs. This may be the easing of absorption and merging of healthcare entities as a common factor. This could take the form of expansion of additional wings to facilities and sites. By having technology that can rapidly meet the needs of the business, you are enabling efficiency from both a technology and manpower standpoint.
With a larger organization it is typical for co-location or, now, cloud hosting to be in effect, which brings forth the requirement for monitoring tools and capabilities. Where small organizations will have people that likely will check on systems on a varied schedule, larger organizations typically dedicate less time to 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 to provide that alerting, 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 these needs. This makes it vitally important that each organization review their business case individually, as they may find themselves with a mentality that leans towards a smaller organization or larger. An Integration Engine still has a role to play in either scenario.