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Top integration challenges in healthcare IT

Survey: Integrating data and applications across the healthcare enterprise

In a recent blog, I shared some data points about the importance of enterprise application integration and the challenges with integrating data sources. The healthcare industry in particular faces similar interoperability challenges but with patient-impacting outcomes.

With mergers and acquisitions increasing, healthcare IT departments find themselves with a wide variety of processes, systems, and applications. This landscape makes the collection, management and protection of data – including sensitive patient records – increasingly complex.

Data integration survey results

In a recent survey conducted by HIMSS Media and sponsored by OpenText™, respondents were asked about their efforts to implement data and application integration. 83% of respondents said that their data and application integration efforts are excellent or good, but that data integration challenges do delay projects. In fact, 85% reported frequent or occasional project delays due to integration challenges.

More importantly, 49% reported that integration challenges frequently or occasionally negatively impact patient care. These delays or negative impacts on patient care occur more frequently in larger health systems (more than 500 beds), with 96% of large organizations reporting project delays and 63% reporting negative impacts on patient care.

It all starts with integration tools – and 62% of survey respondents reported some level of dissatisfaction with available tools. Health systems are not much different from other organizations when it comes to integration needs. Of course, their data, uses, processes or workflows may be different, but their approach to integration can start out similarly.

Most organizations have been doing some form of integration for years. Maybe they started with point-to-point connectivity, and when they needed to expand, they invested in middleware solutions, like the new cloud-based iPaaS offerings and added to their IT staff.

This can be a step in the right direction, but with the rapid proliferation of apps, devices, and technologies that support healthcare, many health systems can’t keep up. The need for real-time data is overwhelming and there may not be enough internal resources to manage the tools to fully accomplish their strategic initiatives.

Project delays are generally related to technology challenges, competing priorities and insufficient resources. This limits the ability to keep up with integration and data management, let alone scale to be prepared for future data growth and needs.

Integration challenges

When asked to identify the biggest challenges or pain points related to enterprise integration, respondents reported:

  • Managing unstructured data/content (50%)
  • Keeping pace with changing technology needs and increasing data volume (49%)
  • Relying on EHR vendors to offer full integration support (48%)
  • Ensuring data security and mitigating privacy risks (47%)
  • Managing multiple application interfaces or communication standards (47%)
  • Integrating data from outside EHR systems (41%)
  • Difficulty accessing data trapped in siloed systems and tools (37%)
  • Maintaining enough in-house IT staff with integration experience (33%)

Managed Services

Faced with complex data management and integration processes and a shortage of internal resources, many organizations are considering other strategies. More than half (55%) of survey respondents said that “new alternatives like integration capabilities delivered as a managed service by a trusted partner” were also “critical” or “very important” to increasing their integration capabilities.

Turning to a trusted partner enables a health system to focus internal resources back to the mission-critical needs of the organization: providing quality patient care and meeting their community’s health needs. OpenText’s managed services approach to integration is tailored to provide a unified data integration solution with built-in data governance and compliance that handles the complexities of the technology and provides the expertise and best practices in integration to better support the growing needs of health systems.

Learn more about insights derived from the HIMSS survey.

To learn more about OpenText’s enterprise application integration services and how they support interoperability, visit our website.

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