The demand for highly skilled HL7 interface engine vendors is on the rise. Many large healthcare organizations are currently adopting and implementing HL7 for interoperability across the U.S. Data from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) shows that up to 82 percent of the hospitals using the top 10 EHRs in the country are using FHIR v.2.
Implementation by tech giant Apple through their Apple Health Record app generated much buzz in 2020. In the same year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the release of a new FHIR-powered app for COVID-19 reporting.
However, many practices may not be able to implement fully interoperable HL7 FHIR interfaces because of the challenges associated with implementation. These include customization of data and resource specifications and inadequate time and resources for an overstretched in-house team to create, deploy, and maintain a fully functional HL7 interface engine.
As a result, CIOs need to work with HL7 interface engine vendors. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an interface or integration engine for your practice.
1. Technologies Supported
Not all HL7 interface engines are created equal. While all vendors may claim that their engine removes the need for creating point-to-point interfaces, you need to ask questions about the technologies and scenarios it supports. A few questions to ask are:
- What interface standards does it support?
- If it supports HL7, does it support the last version of HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)?
- Can it build interfaces to connect lab information systems (LIS) to an EHR API?
- Does it support all modern web technologies such as SOAP, OAuth, HTTPS, JSON, and REST API?
Ask many questions to determine what your potential vendor wants to give your organization.
2. Types of Interfaces Supported
Today, a healthcare provider needs to create a variety of interfaces to achieve full data interoperability. However, you must focus on the most valuable interfaces for your practice.
For clinicians to provide high-quality care efficiently, you must connect your EHR to the information system of your lab, radiology department, pathology department, and pharmacy.
3. Time Required to Create Interfaces ( Project Management Capabilities)
One of the major benefits of using an interface engine is creating and owning your interfaces. Your in-house team can quickly create bi-directional interfaces within a few days.
However, the engine should come with a good project management interface. This interface will make it easy to manage multiple projects and allow you to track the progress of all ongoing interface development projects.
4. Data Security
Virtually all modern interface engines are hosted in the cloud. This raises security concerns for most providers.
With the data breaches occurring in the healthcare industry, every interface engine vendor must implement the highest level of cybersecurity for data transfer, retrieval, and storage.
Ensure that you ask questions about the cybersecurity protocol and the data centers where the interface engine is hosted.
5. Compliance With Regulatory Standards
All data healthcare data transfers in the U.S. must comply with HIPAA standards. While this is a well-known regulation, you must not take it for granted.
Ask for proof during the demo to be sure that regulatory requirements have been met. Also, ask about compliance with other regulations such as ACA and MACRA.