Many healthcare organisations face the challenge of being stuck with outdated integration engine technology. 

In a world of extreme budget constraints, pressures to realise new payment structures, resource depletions, brain drains (i.e., the loss of talented individuals to competitors), and the ever-changing landscape of technology in health IT, the “if it ain’t broke, don't fix it” mentality often prevails, especially when it comes to legacy interface engines.

The little box in the corner that runs your interface engine is often the “little engine that could”—that old engine that just runs and runs and runs. It’s so dependable, yet so fragile to update. That’s why it’s still sitting in the corner—because it just runs. Don’t touch it! The source code may be obsolete; it may be many versions behind, as you haven’t upgraded it lately; there may simply be no vendor support anymore; or the guy that coded all that tool command language (TCL) is long since retired.

Often it becomes a burden for the interface team: implementing new code on an old engine while keeping what’s already in production from breaking.

So much for newer technology to expand into new connections and frontiers! Web services, message enrichment with database interaction, remote management of downed interfaces—these are all “nice to have” features when stuck in this paradigm.

But there are ways to escape this cycle. Here are five return-on-investment (ROI) reasons to point to that will justify the migration to modern technology:

  • Speed to connectivity. Many healthcare organisations can see immediate results to their bottom line if they can simply connect to trading partners. Payers can adjudicate claims faster with all the clinical patient profiles; providers can improve revenue cycle management and reduce costs if they can connect outside their four walls and learn more about their patients by querying specialists, HIEs, and other service providers. By enabling fast connectivity, data is turned into actionable information.
  • Minimise vendor add-on costs. EMR vendors and legacy integration engine vendors are notorious for piling on the add-on costs for opening up a new interface or adding modern functionality. These updates are often as simple as assigning another port address, which may take just a few minutes, yet software vendor fees can range from $3,000 to $15,000 per update.
  • Staff optimisation. Modern integration technology will give staff the ability to use modern software to build self-repairing interfaces and minimise downtime with superior troubleshooting via a modern web management console. Downtime can cost thousands of dollars of unrealised and lost revenue, not to mention the risk of patient safety when orders and result sets don’t flow as expected.
  • Organisation and data security. Often overlooked until a crisis occurs, the data flowing through your systems, outside your firewalls, and to trading partners must remain secure, often encrypted, and compliant with HIPAA and Meaningful Use regulations. The fine for a single HIPAA security violation of unprotected PHI data—in flight from your engine to an ancillary system—could easily exceed six figures.
  • Speed. Worth repeating: There is no substitute for speed. Even in the absence of sound processes, modern integration engines enable quick development, expeditious repair of code, safe-proof testing before deployment, and faster test cycles in order to go live sooner. Developers with modern integration engines can build an interface in minutes versus weeks, and then move on to the next project.

Are you in need of a future-proofed interface engine but are stuck in legacy purgatory because you’ve struggled to justify modernising? Let’s build the business case and value proposition together. The ROI is there, it just needs to be uncovered!