In many Canadian universities featuring affiliated teaching hospitals, opportunities exist to save budget and resources on data integration.

Hospitals use integration engines to acquire, transform and deliver patient and financial data in several data formats including HL7, X12, XML, CCD, FHIR and others. This data travels to and from departments, and also inside and outside the hospitals and regions in which the hospitals operate. Important concepts like guaranteed message delivery, high availability and support for open standards guide the decision makers at a hospital when they choose their integration engine.

Meanwhile, in the university, student and financial information is managed in much the same wayregistration, financial, course and degree data is exchanged in formats such as Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and XML. Each faculty may have a rich variety of data gathered and analyzed for research purposes. Administrative offices also have HR and other ERP data to manage. Universities often use custom software development and expensive middleware solutions to broker these disparate forms of data.

Universities and hospitals (often under the same institutional governance) are making redundant investments in technologies that have the same objective - to acquire, transform, store and redirect data. A strong option for cost savings, institutional efficiency and managing risk would be to consolidate both operations on a common integration engine platform.

The Rhapsody Integration Engine, for example, can acquire structured, unstructured and ad hoc data in any format. Since university data is mainly in predictable formats like XML or delimited files, Rhapsody can easily be used to integrate disparate university systems at a fraction of the cost of using custom development or expensive middleware solutions. Communication formats are largely the same, including SFTP, HTTPS and others, and the data filtering/transforming and parsing methods are also mostly the same. Modern data access methods like REST APIs and web services are used in both settings, and are supported in a modern Integration Engine. 

Why not leverage the investment in an Integration Engine to tackle both problems?

One final point for consideration is the sensitivity of hospital and university data – both require extreme privacy and security. Having a common platform built around HIPAA privacy and security requirements would ensure that student and patient data is managed to the highest standard of logging, role based authentication, encryption and security.

Universities with affiliated hospitals have an opportunity to save money on license and custom software development costs and to reduce the risk of having disparate data management methods and solutions, all by adopting a common integration engine platform.