Moving from Legacy to Future-Proofing

From the moment technology reached the level where patient data could be collected, clinicians have sought the holy grail of healthcare – a ‘one patient, one record’ system. By having a patient’s entire medical history, test and lab results, x-rays and prescriptions in one easy-to-view dashboard, clinicians are able to make better informed decisions. But in order to achieve this, Canada must find a way to integrate health IT systems across 10 provinces and 3 territories, and access information that is currently siloed away in hospital and community care facilities. This is a tall order which demands an integration engine that is up for the task. With increasing demands from aging populations and engines reaching end of life, decision makers must inevitably look to migrate to a new integration engine to meet these challenges and keep up with the demands of tomorrow.

The Healthcare Challenge

There are two approaches to bridging the gaps of care and siloed health information: ‘rip and replace’ the IT infrastructure, or migrate to an integration engine. Ripping out all of the siloed systems to replace them with one system shared by all facilities may guarantee that data and messages are shared smoothly, but it is extremely costly and risks a long downtime. However, the integration engine offers a more cost effective solution, and can help to avoid lengthy downtimes and can scale to take on new technology and population demands. An integration engine is a software product that enables and normalizes the bi-directional sending of messages/data between healthcare systems. With it, different organizations can connect the disparate systems and break down the information siloes. 

While an integration engine offers superior advantages, like all technology, it eventually reaches its end of life and must be replaced. Often vendors will cease product support and sunset the engine. Thus, a healthcare organization must go through the seemingly overwhelming task of replacing the legacy engine. It must find an engine that can effectively scale and deliver the performance needs of an aging population, while providing support for new and emerging messaging protocols (such as the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource, FHIR). However, with the right approach finding the next engine which supports the needs of a healthcare organization today and tomorrow, can be achieved.

Finding the Right Match

While there are many engines on the market to choose from, asking the right questions will help to narrow the list. These questions can help organizations truly determine what are ‘needs’ and what are ‘nice to haves’. Once this has been ascertained, costly add-ons can be avoided and an organization can focus on choosing the correct engine for its needs. But even after an engine has been procured, the organization must follow the right step-by-step process in order to ensure successful adoption. Orion Health has designed a five step process which explains how an organization should Plan, Procure, Prepare, Implement and Operationalize a new integration engine.

Over the next few months, I will chronicle the process of how to effectively follow these five steps. Through this blog series, you’ll learn how you can migrate to a new integration engine with as much ease as possible. Throughout these blogs I will colour the steps with real Canadian examples to demonstrate how smooth migration can be possible in our current healthcare climate. So subscribe to our blog posts to catch the next one as soon as it’s out.