Achieving interoperability among disparate healthcare information solutions is never simple. But when integration tools layer upon one another, cost and complexity is multiplied. At EMH Healthcare, a hospital system based in Ohio, U.S., minimizing such complexity represented the potential for significant cost savings and improved IT connectivity.
From three to one: Consolidating interface engines
At one point, EMH Healthcare relied on technology from eGate Solutions™, Java Composite Application Platform Suite (JCAPS), and ICAN installed at various times and linking the separate technologies across the enterprise. Ironically, to achieve a single, unified, cross-enterprise network, the health system had three products, requiring three skill sets. EMH Healthcare turned to Siemens OPENLink™ to help provide one electronic pathway for integration. Untangling this jumble of connections became the job of José Garcia and several other interface analysts in the EMH Healthcare Information Services group.
“It’s just much easier to do things”
The benefits of one single integration engine were immediate, enabling Garcia and his team to condense conversion timelines and reduce programming resources. “With Siemens OPENLink, you don’t need such a high level of expertise,” Garcia said. “It’s just much easier to do things.” To expedite migration to Siemens OPENLink, EMH Healthcare created a super-record that indexed as much data as could be accessed by its healthcare information system. “And we did it in just a few days,” he said. “From there, we were able to map most of our transactions without much difficulty.” The speed and simplicity with which the migration was completed disguises the large number of IT solutions that had to be connected. Interface types that were needed included the typical connections to general ledger, payroll, patient, demographics, admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT), plus many additional custom connections.
Scalability, simplicity, standards compliance
The hospital network serves as a good example of the kind of interface engine scalability needed to establish cross enterprise connectivity, even in mid-sized health systems. “Now we have more than 100 real-time interfaces in production,” Garcia said. “In addition, more than 85 file interfaces connect to our network as well.” And the transaction volume continues to grow: more than 100,000 per day. Despite the scale of the effort, it took only two months to convert the interfaces with Siemens OPENLink. “Moving all those old interfaces just didn’t take that long,” said Garcia. “Once we built one, it was extremely fast to repeat the process for other interfaces.”1
The outcomes achieved by the Siemens customers described herein were achieved in the customer's unique setting. Since there is no "typical" hospital and many variables exist (e.g. hospital size, case mix, level of IT adoption) there can be no guarantee that others will achieve the same results.