Now that Electronic Medical Records have become the norm, many facilities are looking to leverage these systems to provide more value. Orders/Results exchange with Labs, automated data sharing between practices, centralized storage, and patient record consolidation are typically the first steps. However, IT Directors may quickly find that these projects are not as simple as they may appear. Integration solutions are required in almost every scenario to allow for expedited implementation of data exchange and storage.
On premise solutions stand out to IT Directors for a number of reasons. The most prominent reason is ownership. The servers are under full control of the facility, as well as all of the data. There is no risk of additional cost to access data for a new project or to convert to another solution. However, there is much more cost on the front end. Integration software must be purchased or developed, and the hardware environment must be established and maintained. Then, training and additional development must be performed for any new implementation, alteration in workflow, or update to integrated systems.
Software as a Service (SaaS) effectively simplifies the process for the IT Director by taking the project out of their hands. The environment is remotely hosted, no training or development is required for the local staff, and long-term maintenance is no longer a concern. The tradeoff is that the local staff must rely upon the SaaS vendor for new interface projects and may not have direct access to the data stored and monitoring interfaces. This is rapidly changing as integration SaaS vendors like eTransX provide remote interface development software for collaborative projects and remote access to databases for utilization in other projects and workflows.
A recent trend that also drives facilities toward the SaaS model for integration is remote-hosted or ‘cloud’ storage EMRs. These EMR offerings mean facilities no longer have a need for a locally owned server room or database software, and can drastically reduce the size of the needed IT staff to maintain the facility’s resources. Then, it is a simple matter of bringing in another vendor to perform data integrations with their cloud model instead of implementing the hardware, software, and human resources required for sole, locally owned integration environment. EMRs may be able to directly integrate their cloud site with other EMR, HIE, Lab, and Payer environments with development projects or in-house integration solutions. However, often it is much cheaper and faster to bring in vendors who specialize in connecting these sites.
While on-site solutions have been a favorite of IT Directors for over a decade, perhaps it is time to consider alternatives in order to allow for expedited implementations and drastic reductions in overhead. Options are now available for sites to retain as much or as little of the integration process as they desire.