jeudi 3 avril 2014

Making the Case for Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) in the Healthcare Industry

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Listen as Ziff Davis' Allen Bernard and DellBoomi's Guy Currier explain why integration and interoperability are more important now than ever in the healthcare industry.

Application integration and system interoperability are increasingly important to organizations of all types and sizes but for the healthcare industry in particular, integration efforts are fraught with high-stakes challenges. Strict information security requirements and new financial penalties related to compliance with HIPAA and other regulations make system interoperability crucial in healthcare settings and mean that integration strategies must be rock solid.

That said, well-executed integrations between the various platforms and services used by hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, researchers, and countless other stakeholders in the healthcare industry can ensure the safety and security of patient data. Similarly, system integrations help these stakeholders make meaningful use of the vast data stores and growing ecosystems of healthcare applications. These applications shouldn’t just be more places where doctors need to enter information. Rather, they should be enabling coordination of care, new approaches to mobility for healthcare workers, increased accountability, and reduced errors across all aspects of healthcare.

As with most industries, healthcare organizations typically utilize many different types of applications that serve a variety of purposes. Now consider that some of those applications may be hosted on-premises, say in a data center or server room, or off-premises from a dedicated Software as a Service (SaaS) provider. Healthcare organizations may even utilize community clouds purpose-built to meet the regulatory needs of several cooperating entities.  Regardless of where they originate, integrating these applications is essential if organizations intend to deliver critical data and functionality to users, partners, and patients.

And that’s where system interoperability becomes important because many if not all of those applications are most likely sharing information and must do so in a way that can be tracked, audited, and utterly secure.  Not only are they sharing information, but they are frequently sharing highly dynamic information with updates, deletions, and additions from human entities and the applications themselves. In healthcare settings, insurance information may be changing even as multiple departments or providers are billing for services. New patients are added, old patients leave but must be retained in archives, and records must be transferred between providers. So how can data integrity be maintained in this sort of an environment, especially when there are so many moving parts?

Master data management (MDM) is one way to ensure the integrity of the underlying data in various data stores but that still leaves the issue of system interoperability. Of course, a team of qualified and experienced engineers with understanding of the healthcare vertical can integrate systems and applications no matter how complex they are. In some cases, integration and interoperability can be managed by specialized software and/or hardware appliances that may themselves require developer customization.

While this will work for many organizations, in complex and highly regulated healthcare environments, what happens when a new application is pressed into service or a volume of information is added to a database?  How much additional customization will be necessary to integrate new sources of data? More importantly, every new integration brings with it the  risk of compromising patient information, the consequences of which can significantly impact both an organization’s reputation and financial bottom line.

Interestingly, one of the most robust and straightforward solutions to application integration and system interoperability is so-called “integration platform as a service” (iPaaS). This innovative approach to connecting heterogeneous applications and data stores allows organizations, including those in healthcare, to easily combine and integrate applications and data regardless of the source or location (i.e. on-premises or off-premises).  iPaaS moves the heavy lifting of application integration into the cloud while leaving the underlying data untouched, an especially important feature in healthcare environments. As a cloud-based platform, iPaaS is a powerful tool for designing, visualizing, and monitoring integrations that allows organizations to much more rapidly connect

In most cases, end users and IT administrators, rather than expensive developers, can use a drag-and-drop interface to define integrations and map data fields between applications. The straightforward visual interface and robust management tools, which are all available in a central cloud console, amounts to lower risk and greater peace of mind for the entire organization.

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