There seems to be a greater demand for interfacing to EMRs today. With the HITECH and ARRA push, we find that more healthcare facilities, like hospitals, imaging centers, and laboratories, are trying to find, and use, a magic wand.
Unfortunately, there is no magic wand for healthcare interfacing.
There are standards, however, such as HL7, and tools like interface engines that make it much easier for interface developers and analysts.
Through my experience, I have found that having a solid foundation in your internal infrastructure and methodologies helps to prepare your organization for interfacing to EMRs.
Below are some “lessons learned” from interfacing to the referring physicians’ EMRs:
Have a strategy for EMR interfacing.
- Begin with results delivery and add orders later, or begin with a large clinic where the interface burden financially and resource-wise is not all yours.
Establish business rules in determining if an interface is the right solution for a referring location.
- Is there enough business to gain return on investment (ROI)?
- How many physicians will benefit?
Re-evaluate internal workflow to accommodate for the interfaces.
- For example, the registration staff may need to be retrained to enter specific information from the requisition.
Use a standards based, practiced development process.
- Avoid a one-off, time-consuming, custom interface that is prone to errors and high maintenance.
- Use standards such as HL7 over TCP/IP.
- Use tools to provide the flexibility needed to deal with interfacing.
- Develop a step-by-step approach that works. (See my post on Steps to EMR Interfacing.)
Gain vendor independence in interfacing.
- Invest in an interface engine.
- Train or contract the necessary staff to develop and support interfaces.
- Get generic interfaces with robust feeds from vendors.
What are other lessons you have learned in your EMR interfacing experience?