As vendor development teams look to improve their interface strategy, there are important questions to consider before implementing an integration engine into their solution. In our last blog post, we looked at several questions surrounding data exchange, workflow and scaling, and the important considerations for each. This week, our focus is on another set of questions that address testing/deployment, monitoring and maintenance:
- How quickly can you test and deploy interfaces?
Getting your interfaces off the drawing board and into active use can be one of the biggest challenges in the application development process. Interfaces need to be tested against a number of different scenarios – such as making sure it is compatible with other software vendors’ applications.
In addition to testing the interface against all the different versions of the software it will be interfacing with, there are also variations data formats, operating systems, transmission protocols and specific hardware platforms to consider.
While that can seem like a lot to keep up with, there are ways to mitigate the ongoing challenge of keeping up with all of the changes in your customers’ environments. An advanced, robust integration engine approach will effectively outsource and automate all of that testing for you. All the interfaces will be pre-tested and vetted against all the possible combinations in the market, and put you in the best position to prevent problems before they occur.
Another benefit of outsourcing the process of interface testing is time to market. Development resources can be very limited as development teams rush to meet all of their milestones ahead of product release. Ensuring that the testing process is as automated and foolproof as possible will free up resources for higher-value tasks and position the team for success.
- How will you monitor all of your interfaces?
People who are new to healthcare IT application developments may not realize that creating an interface is far from a one-and-done activity. In addition to the version compatibility issues referenced above, all sorts of other things can cause an interface to malfunction or fail completely. User configuration errors, malware, changes to security protocols, firmware updates and many other unexpected events can cause an interface to fail. Being able to monitor for these occurrences is critical for vendors and their customers.
Interfaces not only need to be constantly monitored on an ongoing basis, they also need buffer and back-up capability to log exactly when failures occur and capture any messages that are not processed so that critical data can be completely restored.
Robust, modern integration engines automate that process and ensure that the interface is continuously monitored, administrators are immediately alerted to any problems or discrepancies, and any messages that fail to process are logged and captured for complete and accurate restoration. Interface monitoring is definitely not something you want to do manually, no matter how simple or low-volume you expect the interface to be. The DIY approach here is a recipe for disaster and adds an undue and unexpected burden to you and your customers.
- Getting data into and out of the EHR is key. How does your integration solution handle this?
For any product developer, the EHR is an important data source. It is imperative IT teams can easily connect new EHRs or incorporate new applications into their existing infrastructure. When looking to implement an integration engine, ensure it has the capabilities that will speed up EHR migrations and empower the connectivity required to update existing interfaces and create new workflows.
For Further Reading:
- Integration Strategy for Health IT Vendors, Part 1 of 3: Developing Interfaces In-house vs. Outsourcing
- Integration Strategy for Health IT Vendors, Part 3 of 3: Real-world Integration Challenges, FHIR, and Security
- Whitepaper: Integration Strategies for Healthcare IT Vendors
- FHIR Resources