This article is published in sponsorship with iNTERFACEWARE.
Over the past decade or so, the role of the hospital CIO has certainly changed. Once laser-focused on major system implementations such as electronic medical records (EMRs), a shift towards making data accessible and actionable has taken precedence.
In fact, getting actionable data into the hands of end-users may be the most impactful endeavour a CIO can make. Of course, there are substantial barriers that stand in the way: new emerging data standards, changing payment models, and a more diverse range of information sources than ever.
Here’s three steps that EVERY hospital CIO should take to ensure that their integration projects are delivered on time and on budget, and deliver the expected cost and quality improvements for their organization.
For a complete list of steps, download iNTERFACEWARE’s free guide: The Savvy CIO’s Guide to Successful Integration Projects.
Step 1: Become an advocate for integration within your organization
Even though nearly every new technology implementation requires some level of integration, it often remains an afterthought and is typically driven from a reactionary position.
For integration to receive its due consideration, CIOs of hospitals and other healthcare providers must take it upon themselves to become the organizational voice that leads the charge.
As the integration advocate, CIOs must:
- Step back and take a broad view of integration. While it’s easy to get bogged down in the immediate backlog of integration projects, it is critical for CIOs to avoiding binding their strategy too tightly to a single standard or technology. Since integration in healthcare is a constantly moving target, careful consideration must be given to how well-positioned a hospital is to address the future challenges that new standards and information sources ultimately bring.
- Secure buy-in from key stakeholders. For integration to become an organizational priority, CIOs need support. While it’s important to get buy-in from members of the C-suite, they are not the only key stakeholders. Anyone with a workflow impacted by integration, either directly or indirectly, should be considered key stakeholders. Should any stakeholder have pressing concerns, they should be documented and adequately addressed.
- Support and inspire the integration team. As with any team, it’s valuable for an integration team to understand the significance of their work. The importance of creating access to meaningful data within a hospital setting cannot be overstated. Communication alone is not enough. CIOs can and should lead by their actions by securing the necessary resources and removing any potential roadblocks for their team. Listening to their ideas and going to bat for them will go a long way.
Step 2: Align your integration projects with strategic initiatives
Integration is much more than ushering data around between information systems and it should be viewed as such. Strategic initiatives like increasing patient engagement, better clinical decision support and transitioning to pay-per-performance models all can (and should) be pushed forward by integration projects.
By incorporating an integration strategy that is part of the “bigger picture,” CIOs can significantly reduce the amount of knee jerk reactionary work that focuses on short-term needs.
Integration in healthcare requires continual investment. There is always more that can be done. When trying to secure additional budget, it’s a much easier conversation to have when past projects have a direct correlation to the success of organization-wide goals.
Step 3: Leverage the right technology
Contrary to popular belief, integration engines are not created equal. Next to the IT team, the integration engine is the most valuable resource when it comes to integration. It’s responsible for connecting every application, whether clinical or financial, and ensuring data is available to the right people at the right time.
Bonus Tip: If you’re using multiple integration solutions throughout your hospital, you are simply wasting money. A modern integration engine can handle all integration requirements across your entire organization.
While many considerations go into the selection of an integration engine, there are two that are absolutely necessary for every hospital:
Consideration One: Customizable
A number of integration engines make bold claims about solving every integration problem with “no scripting required.” While it sounds great as a marketing message, this approach assumes that every organization has the same requirements. The problem with this approach is that interfaces aren’t always simple, which is to say they aren’t always free from data transformations, requiring no business logic. When faced with the real-world complexities that are inherent in healthcare integration, this approach leaves much to be desired.
Recommendation: Look for integration solutions that don’t shy away from scripting but rather make it a core part of the platform.
Consideration Two: Troubleshooting
There is more time (and money) spent on maintaining interfaces than building them. Errors are going to happen and they will likely happen at the most inopportune time. The key is to be prepared for them. Given the critical nature of information being exchanged, being alerted that an error has occurred isn’t enough.
Recommendation: Look for integration engines that pinpoint exactly where and when an error has occurred to ultimately lead to faster error resolution and reduce the cost of interface maintenance.
CIOs can make a huge impact on cost improvement
It all starts with commitment. By becoming the advocate to raise integration’s priority level, demonstrating success by aligning it with strategic goals and leveraging the right technology, CIOs will put their provider organizations on a direct path to long-term integration success.
For further reading, please download our free guide: The Savvy CIO’s Guide to Successful Integration Projects.
Since 1997, iNTERFACEWARE has been on a mission to make healthcare data integration easier. 800+ healthcare providers and software companies rely on iNTERFACEWARE’s software and services to exchange information between incompatible systems. iNTERFACEWARE’s Iguana® integration engine is used globally for integration with EMRs, Billing Systems, Health Information Exchanges, and more.