As you read this, do you know the status of every clinical interface in your environment? Unfortunately, a common answer to this question may be, “I have not received a call from anybody, so everything must be fine.”
What needs to be monitored in HL7 messaging? Some examples include:
- Guaranteed message delivery
- ACK vs NACK
- No response
- Connection status
- Messages moving
- Messages backlogged
- Errors in message processing
- Invalid HL7 structure
- Invalid message data
- Database interaction issues
- Machine issues (e.g., hard drive space)
The question remains: Do you know the status of every clinical interface in your environment? What if you could answer this question confidently and say, “Yes, I know my interfaces are all running without an issue?” How can you get to this level of confidence in your healthcare integration environment?
To get to this level of confidence, you will need interfaces that are capable of monitoring themselves. When unexpected events occur, the interfaces need to be able to recognize these events and alert the IT staff that there is a problem, and it needs immediate attention. With this level of alerting, often times HL7 messaging and communication problems can be diagnosed and resolved before the clinical staff knows they even existed.
In today’s fast paced world, doctors need to have access to information as soon as it’s available. If the interface between two clinical applications is down, the delivery of critical patient information cannot be completed.
You don’t have to be around interfacing long to talk to somebody who has a horror story about an interface that went down, but nobody knew it was down for hours or even days. This is a common problem that many healthcare providers are facing today. These types of problems are occurring in a very controlled environment, on a local network, within the walls of a single organization.
As healthcare evolves and the communication and sharing of information continues to expand beyond the four walls of a provider organization (e.g., to a regional or nationwide sharing environment), the importance of self monitoring interfaces and pro-active alerting becomes increasingly important.