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Using IPaaS for Healthcare Data Integration, Cloud Migration

Healthcare data integration is becoming more cloud-reliant and organizations are looking for support from IPaaS solutions to integrate IT systems and applications.

healthcare data integration

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations struggle with healthcare data integration as they go through digital transformations. Integrating applications with legacy infrastructure tools can be difficult to manage, but an integration platform-as-a-service (IPaaS) can help streamline the process to help organizations build a future-proof integration strategy.

By 2021, IPaaS is expected to make up the largest segment of application integration middleware as organizations seek a robust and manageable way to integrate data, according to Gartner’s latest IPaaS report

 “An IPaaS solution provides capabilities to enable subscribers (aka ‘tenants’) to implement data, application, application programming interface (API) and process integration projects involving any combination of cloud-resident and on-premises endpoints,” the report explained. “This is achieved by developing, deploying, executing, managing and monitoring integration processes/flows that connect multiple endpoints so that they can work together.”

The report stated that IPaaS capabilities must include:

  • Communication protocol connectors such as FTP, HTTP, Advanced Message Queueing Protocol (AMQP), Applicability Statement 1 (AS1)/2/3/4, and others
  • Application connectors/adapters for SaaS and on-premises packaged applications
  • Data formats such as XML, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1) and others
  • Data standards such as Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transportation (EDIFACT), Health Level Seven (HL7), SWIFT and others
  • Data mapping and transformation
  • Data quality
  • Routing and orchestration
  • Integration flow development and life cycle management tools
  • Integration flow operational monitoring and management

IPaaS solutions may also include full lifecycle API management, B2B ecosystem management, and Internet of Thing (IoT) integration, although these things are not required.

Selecting cloud-based integration tools will help organizations move and apply their applications. Healthcare organizations are moving towards cloud infrastructure models to host tools and data. Organizations are looking to IPaaS solutions to integrate multicloud environments with on-premises applications quickly.

The more organizations adopt the cloud, the more appealing vendor-managed solutions become. Gartner predicted that the service-based approach will become the preferred option over a software-based approach because it will help reduce what needs to be done on-premises and allow IT staff to focus on more projects that will improve IT infrastructure.

Healthcare organizations in particular can benefit from faster integration. Clinicians and patients relying on digital tools and support from the IT infrastructure can’t have downtime where the tools they need are unreachable. IPaaS can speed up the integration process from months to weeks.

“Most organizations find that their existing approaches are just not delivering fast enough to meet the new challenges,” the report explained. “For organizations that never established integration practices on-premises, the thought of having to start now is daunting. The large costs, lack of available skills, long delivery times and complex infrastructure builds associated with traditional on-premises approaches are just not in line with today's lean approaches and timelines.” 

A cloud-first integration approach can also help healthcare organizations build an effective strategy to move away from legacy infrastructure without ripping and replacing entire pieces of their infrastructure.

“It’s not as easy as a rip-and-replace conversation anymore,” Dell Boomi Healthcare Solutions Evangelist John Reeves told HITInfrastructure.com. “You have to be thinking about how you can overlay and connect to these systems while still managing everything that a regular company does: finances, payroll, human resources, and more.”

“Adapt and go to the cloud by choosing the right vendor to move you there,” Reeves continued. “Make that step where you have your feet in both legacy and cloud, then gradually replace what needs to be replaced.”

Before going through the process of selecting an IPaaS vendor, Gartner suggested that organizations have a complete understanding of their requirements and priorities for data integration. Knowing where the data siloes are in an organization is key, according to Reeves.

“When you do something that's potentially disruptive or will change the operating mode of your organization you're going to be touching something that is fragile,” said Reeves. Many of these systems have been up and available for a long time and they've done things in a certain way. You have to clearly articulate what the initiatives are as well as understand exactly where the data is.”

Once organizations build a healthcare data integration plan around their needs, they can choose a vendor and begin quickly and successfully migrating their data and systems to the cloud.

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