Posted on behalf of Jill Cimildoro, Director of National Sales
Integration pathways within healthcare have grown leaps and bounds over the past 8 years, in large part driven by Regulatory requirements (HITECH Act-Meaningful Use, MIPS/MACRA), evolving reimbursement models, and the gradual shift toward quality focused care delivery goals. Subsequently, there has been significant advancement in web services integration to support data exchange amongst different healthcare organization, be it hospitals, Accountable Care Organizations, HIEs, and/or Public Health Agencies in order to address universal patient care goals, more easily and cost effectively. Furthermore, Healthcare Vendors and Providers are turning to Application Programming Interfaces to connect disparate EHRs, to support health information exchange initiatives, as well as to support patient engagement with mobile applications & devices. As such, one can anticipate the reliance on web services integration in healthcare to continue to accelerate in the coming years.
So, what in the world is Web Service(s) Integration, and what are the protocols being taken advantage of by hospitals, providers, and vendors alike; and why are they being leveraged more frequently? Web services, in the context of an enterprise integration project, defines a set of modular applications, which can be accessed within a network (e.g., the Internet, an intranet, or extranet) through a standard interface, typically XML (eXtensible Markup Language). A web service is a pathway to connect different systems and resources together through a universal language and framework.
In healthcare, Web Service integration will allow software applications to extend their connectivity options to a variety of external stakeholders, including hospitals, HIEs, providers, and/or state run agencies via a web connection. Web connection examples include, but are not limited to, SOAP, SMIME, JSON. To that end, more and more healthcare stakeholders are turning to Web Services-based integration to support uni-directional and bi-directional communication because of its ability to breakdown typical geographic and technical boundaries to support data exchange.
Whether defined by geography or by services, breaking down boundaries of care, and prioritizing transitions of care, are critical to a healthcare organization’s growth prospects. For example, when a patient transitions from inpatient care to specialty surgery, to outpatient therapeutic interventions, and then to home healthcare, each provider has a boundary of care. However, it’s imperative that each referring provider has access to current, accurate, and comprehensive healthcare information on that patient to mitigate instances of repeat testing or adverse medication interaction incidents. As the volume of data being captured on patients increases, healthcare organizations need to be able to support transition of care growth by investing in and implementing an infrastructure that supports a seamless data exchange which includes web services integration.
As a means to simplify and streamline integration in a secure manner, organizations are looking to leverage interface engine technology, with web services integration adaptors, in order to further bridge communication gaps and eliminate technical boundaries associated with data exchange. As reimbursements are progressively tied to patient outcomes, it will be even more imperative for
healthcare organizations to facilitate integration with systems outside of their networks. Therefore, as new standards are introduced, new technologies arise, and new models in systems integration are presented, healthcare organizations must have a framework that meets the requirements of a nimble integration platform, including scalability for growth, security, dexterity, and convenience.