If you are in the market for healthcare integration services, you are most likely overwhelmed with the wide variety of options available today. Should you build out an internal team and utilize an open-source tool like Mirth Connect and build your own data integration infrastructure? Should you utilize a full-service data integration provider? What is the cost difference when you consider all of the various cost factors? Should you go with a healthcare integration engine, or perhaps an integration as a service model? The answers to these questions are sometimes hard to determine. For each organization, there will be a different answer based on their specific budget, resources, capabilities, and overall goals and objectives.
Data integration projects in healthcare today are often a complex and never-ending process and it can be incredibly helpful to have a trusted healthcare data integration partner to fill in the gaps in your interoperability strategy.
Based on Zen Healthcare IT’s decades of healthcare integration experience, here are the top 3 things we think you should look for when selecting a healthcare integration service provider.
Security is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a healthcare integration service provider.
It is critical that you work with companies with a proven track record of operating with the highest levels of security in their infrastructure, policies, and procedures.
One of the best ways to verify this is by asking about their security certifications. We suggest going with a company that has technology that has been HITRUST CSF r2 certified. Becoming HITRUST certified is a rigorous process where external assessors review every aspect of a company’s information security plan, including critical aspects such as risk management, change control, audit logging and management, access control, and HIPAA privacy and security compliance.
For example, Zen Healthcare IT just recently received our HITRUST CSF r2 certification, and we spent almost a year assessing, fine-tuning, and documenting our way through hundreds of security controls. It was a big investment in time and money but Zen client’s can rest assured that we have embraced a security first approach to everything we do across the entire organization.
You need to ensure that the Healthcare Integration Service Provider is able to create a versatile interoperability solution that fits your exact needs.
Healthcare integration services can make big promises in their advertising. “We integrate anything to anything, anywhere – any way!” This sounds amazing and there are incredibly powerful integration options available now so our ability to integrate healthcare data systems has taken huge steps forward in the last handful of years. However, you need to ensure that you are taking the path of maximum flexibility and ensure that you are only paying for what you need when you need it.
Some healthcare integration service providers offer tiered packages and pricing that force you to pay for more than what you actually need. Or if you look carefully, you see that their integrations are 100% based on a fixed API. You may have to wait to implement an important new healthcare interface use case until they are able to support it, if they ever do.
You also need to consider the extent to which your organization is able to be “hands-on” with your integration solution. Depending on the healthcare data engine you select, you may have a lot of work to do yourself and need good integration engineers on staff, or you may rely 100% on the vendor for your healthcare interfaces. Unfortunately, your needs are likely to evolve over time. So what works well for you now, may not be the right choice later.
Because we know companies’ healthcare integration needs evolve over time, Zen’s Gemini Integration as a Service solution has two different models to flex with healthcare organizations as they evolve. And pricing is also flexible, aligning with what clients need, when they need it.
For example, we offer a “hands-off” approach where Zen handles all the security, infrastructure, and day-to-day interface development and ongoing management. This allows our clients to focus more on what they do best while letting our healthcare integration subject matter experts do what we do best.
For those healthcare organizations that want to create and manage their own interfaces, we also offer a “hands-on” option with our Gemini Developer solution that allows organizations to build their own interfaces, managed by their own internal development teams. But since the Gemini managed infrastructure is included for all clients, it dramatically reduces the FTEs (and associated costs) required to manage and maintain the healthcare data engine.
Every organization has unique circumstances, resources, budget, and interoperability goals, but it is almost guaranteed that these will change over time. A healthcare integration service provider should provide room for your organization to grow and evolve without having to change integration service providers later.
Another important aspect to consider is the scalability of a proposed integration solution.
As an organization grows, inevitably the amount of data, the number of required integrations and the types of integrations will scale up significantly. You need to ensure that you select a vendor that can scale up your integration platform in a cost-effective manner. You don’t want to pay for more than you need today, but you also want to have a healthcare integration partner that sets you up for success in the future.
There is a saying we have in the healthcare interoperability space: “Healthcare data standards don’t go away, they just create new ones”. You need to find a solution that supports a wide range of data transformations between the legacy standards / non-standards (X12/EDI, HL7, IHE, flat files) and the new standards (APIs, JSON, FHIR).
The support and pricing models should also scale. Do the math. Will the solution be affordable when you have ten times the number of endpoints and messages? How much staff will you require to manage the solution on a day-to-day basis? Can you effectively scale the security requirements if you are doing it all yourself?
The Zen Team’s decades of lessons learned with building, managing, and securing healthcare interfaces were invaluable in helping us build an extremely scalable and cost-effective healthcare integration service.
We love sharing that experience with others. If you want help with your healthcare integration needs, please schedule a meeting with our healthcare integration subject matter experts. You won’t be sorry that you did.