EMR Interface Myths

Although interface development has been touted at times as “plug ‘n play,” those who know realize that this is seldom, if ever, the case. Progress has been made over the years, particularly with the development and adoption of standards such as ASTM, HL7, CCOW, ELINCS, LOINC, and other messaging layer standards. In addition, the interface engine revolutionized the healthcare industry in the early ’90’s with STC’s DataGate (now owned by Oracle) interface engine technology. This paved the way for the elimination (or reduction) of point-to-point (peer-to-peer) individual interface development, testing and deployment. The interface engine provided a central ‘hub’ for the interfaces to reside, which streamlined the development, deployment and maintenance of interfaces. More seamless interface connectivity, or interoperability, has opened the door for much more sophisticated, real-time billing and clinical decision support processes to be developed and deployed.

Unfortunately, the interface engine market has not made material progress since its inception nearly two decades ago. Certainly the ability to manage all levels of the engine and interfaces through slick GUI’s and robust client connectivity libraries has made significant progress, however, the process of design, development, testing, deployment and maintenance is essentially the same, with long timelines.

For example, it takes on average 90-days for a reference laboratory to bring live an LIS-to-EMR orders/results interface for a physician office from start to finish. That’s assuming all the stars line up and there is a Blue Moon that month! With the rapid adoption of EMR systems in the physician office, the interface development queues of these vendors is bulging, further exasperating an already lengthy and cumbersome timeline.

There are some attempts being made by several of the LIS, outreach, and middleware vendors to ‘commoditize’ interface development and bring the technology closer to a “plug ‘n play” reality. Colaborate will continue to monitor these developments and report on them.

But for now, roll-up your sleeves, brew another pot or two of coffee, and be the squeaky wheel in your vendors ear to move those EMR interfaces through their heavily bogged down queues. For assistance and insight on your overall interface strategy and to develop a realistic connectivity plan, turn to Colaborate for its deep and extensive skills and history with interface development and deployment.
By Kevin Hunter