You understand HL7, its purpose and use, and you are ready to establish interfaces for your integration engine. What should you be sure to do as you move those interfaces into production?
We asked a senior implementations consultant at Corepoint Health, Alex Lin, to provide his top three suggestions:
Test the workflow.
Before moving an interface into production, it is important to test the workflow of data from “end to end.” A well designed interface engine will have tools to test messages and is able to show you the results without actually needing the end points. If you can prove that your messages are properly filtered and mapped, you should be able to test with vendors with confidence in your work.
After you are sure you have your part right, the messages should be monitored as they interact with system firewalls and various networks. Firewall preferences and network settings tend to be unexpected road blocks for developers as they are different for each application and organization. They can, however, have a dramatic impact on time and money spent in establishing interfaces; so be sure to remember to test the message interaction.
Communicate with vendors.
As mentioned in previous blog posts regarding the development and use of HL7 interfaces, it is important to always communicate with vendors prior to interface implementation. Test the connections with test messages (provided by the vendor) to prevent any errors that could occur when real data is at stake.
Also, take advantage of testing scenarios as an opportunity to become acquainted with the customer support side of the engine vendor. It is possible that you may learn a more efficient method for mapping workflow, discover a new and helpful feature or simply make a contact for the times when you need to call on support. Having a relationship established with a support team that is familiar with your workflow can improve the quality of that experience.
Utilize monitoring and alerting tools.
Some interface engines provide proactive features such as monitoring and alerts, in addition to basic message translation and routing. Identify the features available with the engine to test your interfaces for errors and general performance. The alerting and monitoring features available within an engine can have a profound impact on an organizations’ experience.
An interface in production can be a smooth running machine and monitoring and alerting will help you know when all is well or when something needs attention. Face it. No one wants to hire someone to “babysit” connections all day.
Although establishing interfaces with an interface engine can be a quick and simple task, it is important to test the workflow and integration engine prior to moving the interfaces into production and to communicate with vendors at all times.
Taking these three steps can significantly improve the implementation experience, in addition to minimizing the time and money that could be spent if an error were to occur.
Latest posts by Alex Lin (see all)
- Three Things to Consider when Moving an Interface into Production - September 1, 2010
- What three things should everyone know about working with HL7 standards? - July 29, 2010
- Three Things to Keep in Mind When Developing an HL7 Interface - July 12, 2010