5 indicators of a fully integrated IT system

Data integration is necessary in today's healthcare environment as information systems become commonplace within the care continuum.  Now, data integration doesn't — and can't — just include connectivity between clinical systems.

"It's not really just about tying your lab equipment or your surgery equipment to your EMR or health information system, but it's really looking at that end-to-end integration from clinical to financial systems," said Elise Cambournac, assistant vice president of Parallon Information Technology Services at the Becker's Hospital Review 6th Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Ms. Cambournac said too often, healthcare integration solely looks at how clinical systems integrate into the EMR, but for full, seamless integration in the changing reimbursement models, integration with the entire care continuum — including the revenue cycle — is imperative.

Ms. Cambournac outlined five key questions to help assess a hospital or healthcare system's integration maturity.

1. A flexible integration strategy: An indicator of strong integration is whether or not the system can receive any data at any speed and manage the volume and variability of information. "You have to be able to gracefully adapt to that variability," Ms. Cambournac said. "Graceful is key here, as we know things go bump in the night."

2. Real-time visibility. "Do you have the real-time visibility to see when things go bump in the night?" Ms. Cambournac said, adding hospitals need to be proactive when looking at and resolving any issues that may arise.

3. Auditing and reconciliation capability: The accuracy of charges is critical to integration, Ms. Cambournac said. "Leakage is not an option."

4. Real-time analytics. Spotting trends in real-time is critical to transforming and utilizing data, according to Ms. Cambournac.

5.  Data intelligence. After systems collect and store data, they need the capability to analyze the data and transform it into actionable insights.

But, above all, Ms. Cambournac said effective, integrated data systems require strong people. "Technology would be nothing without the people designing, implementing and supporting it," Ms. Cambournac said. "To have that world-class integration solution, we need the world-class talent."

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