Three key things to look for in an integration engine

May 14, 2018 Greg Stack

There are a number of integration engines available for healthcare providers—each with different capabilities and features—and choosing the right one for your organization can be difficult. 

Hospitals and healthcare organizations use integration engines to provide comprehensive support for an extensive range of communication protocols and message formats. They help interface-analysts and hospital IT administrators reduce their workloads, while meeting the complex technical challenges associated with making healthcare data accessible to all relevant stakeholders.
 
To determine which engine is best for your organization you should consider as many options as possible and ask some tough questions. Here are three key things to look for when choosing an integration engine:
 
1) Ease-of-Use
Look for a healthcare-specific engine that combines an easy to use drag-and-drop functionality with the flexibility to write custom code. Ask the vendor if their engine will enable a standard interface to be developed in a short timeframe—by someone relatively new to the engine—with no complicated code required. A number of integration engines require time-consuming programming so it’s important that you’re aware of this in advance so that you can chose an engine that will help you to maximize efficiencies and cost savings.
 
2) Availability and support 
Uptime is an incredibly important Service Level Objective. It is expressed as a percentage of
time that a system is usable over a set period – for example 99.95% of a month. This figure not only represents how stable the product is, and how often it crashes, but also how long it takes to get the engine back up again if there is an outage. Providers should look for an integration engine that has a high uptime and can guarantee message delivery. It is also important to ask how support is provided, whether it’s 24/7, and how proactive the vendor is with addressing system issues and releasing updates.
 
3) Low price vs low cost of ownership
There can be a number of hidden costs within a contract that organizations need to be aware of. For example, a vendor could offer a basic integration engine for a low price but their charges for scaling up and adding new interfaces—which is standard practice— could be significantly higher than competitors. This common scenario often results in far higher costs over the life of a contract. While the initial cost will play a significant part in any negotiation, the long-term costs of expansion and support needs to be factored in to avoid operating budget pressure and ensuring return on investment. 
 
Choosing an integration engine can be difficult but it can also be a beneficial process, it provides you with an opportunity to analyze your organization’s requirements and prepare it for the future. Therefore, it is important to consider all vendors and chose one that has a record of successfully migrating legacy engines, is prepared for the future, is cloud-ready, and understands your needs –  because a vendor should be more than a supplier, they should be a partner.  
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