FAQ: If I already need to purchase an interface from my vendor, what is the value of an interface engine?
Opening the interface from a specific vendor is always essential. The value an interface engine delivers can be summarized around four primary points.
First, with a robust, extensive interface from a vendor, getting the interface is only needed once and then it can be leveraged when additional data exchanges with other applications are required.
For example, if you need a patient demographic (ADT) interface between MEDITECH and your laboratory system , you should purchase a wide-ranging interface that includes not only all of the information you need today, but any information MEDITECH can include in that message for future purposes. As a result, when you have another requirement for an ADT interface to your radiology system, you do not need to purchase another interface from MEDITECH or 3rd party vendor. The interface engine can use the existing interface, modify the format to meet your new partner’s requirements, and send it to your radiology system from MEDITECH. An interface engine saves money as the numbers of interfaces grow.
Second, when a point-to-point interface is purchased and built between two specific applications, little to no monitoring of that interface takes place. If the interface is down, sometimes the only way you would know is when one of your physicians or providers calls to ask why no messages are being received. With an interface engine, proactive monitoring and alerting of the interfaces are part of the package, along with message log management which makes it easier to re-send messages when needed. An interface engine facilitates providing better service to your users and ensuring timely data exchanges occur.
Third, as in most things in life, change happens. A new data element may be required in an interface. If a point-to-point interface is in place, a change in the interface means being placed in the ‘custom’ queue so someone can customize the interface and deliver a new one to you. This takes time and may add to the cost.
With an interface engine, making a change to an interface is simple and usually only takes minutes to make the adjustment. An interface engine enables greater control over your interfaces and provides the capabilities to make changes quickly and easily.
A fourth key point is flexibility to work with other standards. Although HL7 is a standard central to healthcare, other standards are playing an increasingly important role. For example, X12 messages facilitate billing, insurance eligibility requests, and other efficiencies in various workflows. The Continuity of Care Document, an XML-based data standard, is also gaining traction as it relates to exchanging patient summaries between various physicians and providers. An interface engine delivers the capabilities to work with different healthcare standards and adapt to the changing healthcare standards landscape productively and efficiently.