Dan Rice, Product Marketing Manager

Healthcare integration teams that are right sized and ready for the future

In this time of budget constraints and staffing shortages, it can be difficult to size and equip your integration team while the number of connections and projects for digital health applications steadily increases.  If your budget isn’t increasing and your resources remain scarce, in many cases operational efficiencies are still waiting to be discovered.  Re-evaluating your integration challenges by investigating the people, processes, and technology involved can help narrow your root causes and fine tune your solution.  Once these elements are optimized, you’ll have a strong foundation to plan a path forward. 

People: Balancing skillsets and responsibilities for today and tomorrow 

Having the right people is always important, especially ones with expertise in the latest approaches (FHIR and APIs) as well as legacy methods (HL7) that will still be around for years to come.  These resources are invaluable, and their contributions to connect systems and data across the healthcare continuum fuel growth and improve the patient and clinician experience.  When assessing your team, look at how they are doing today and consider how they will tackle tomorrow with a few simple questions: 

  • How often does your integration team meet their internal and external service level obligations? 
  • Is your team working at capacity?  This includes integration tasks and other responsibilities. 
  • Do you have any upcoming initiatives that the integration team will have to dedicate time to? This includes backlog plus new project work. 

If your team is meeting all your service level obligations, you don’t have a backlog of demands, and your team is at about 85% capacity, your staff is ideal today.  But then there’s the balance of creating the perfect mix of skills, workload, and preparation for what’s coming tomorrow. This means knowing your team is right sized for what is on the horizon to handle both the steady state and new project work.  A large migration or new system coming online can challenge the team and create a difficult environment if the right people aren’t in place to manage the situation effectively. 

Process: Preparing to scale 

Organizations often outgrow their processes.  Even if they’re initially built to ensure success, if your processes are not reviewed and tweaked on a regular basis, they may fail to address the current staffing situations or other factors like policy changes, tech advancements, and new development.  Even with the best people, poor processes too often add unnecessary costs, while draining time, job satisfaction, and results.  This can create a ripple effect through IT into clinical situations.  At the core, integration teams solve process problems every day for others by ensuring critical data is where it’s supposed to be when someone needs it.  

Yet don’t overlook your internal processes that may be creating overwork or burden: 

  • Do you see existing bottlenecks in onboarding new digital health apps or backlogs in supporting existing interfaces?  
  • When migrating connections in mass numbers, such as an upcoming EHR migration, do you have a proven and reliable cutover process that you are confident will successfully move hundreds if not thousands of interfaces? 
  • How much time is consumed building the bridge with external data trading partners? Who on your team is doing this work? 

If any of these processes aren’t optimal, downstream issues can arise quickly, creating backlogs, hours of unnecessary meetings, or lengthy downtime.  Investigate how many steps and what groups are involved with existing bottlenecks. Determine how often these occur and how long each step takes on average.  Start identifying problem processes and quantifying their importance in time or criticality.     

Technology: Building a foundation for lower costs and faster results 

The right technology tied with the best people and processes leads to transformative results, and in the case of your integration approach, it’s no different. The right approach for integration technology not only helps improve processes but also greatly simplifies the work and lowers operating costs.  It can be tempting to throw additional people at a problem and stay the course with the same processes and technology, but what if there is a better, more cost-effective way?   

When thinking about the below questions consider the role technology plays in each of the following: 

  • Does it seem like every new interface takes too long to build? Does the learning curve appear to be steep for new team members? 
  • How difficult is it to troubleshoot an integration issue and how often do these occur? 
  • Have you had any unplanned downtime in the last year?   

If you aren’t satisfied with your answers to the above questions, there is a way to right size your approach with technology to match your challenges.  Endless meetings about integration bottlenecks, overtime chasing integration issues with no clear direction in the middle of the night, and unreliable legacy engines can all be avoided the vast majority of the time.  If you are behind in your digital health goals, or if your approach to maintaining your existing data fabric is unsustainable, let’s look at the problem together.  Rhapsody simplifies the challenges of integration and can equip your team for tomorrow.   

In conclusion, right sizing your team means people, processes, and technology are carefully considered and planned, and it can lead to truly amazing results.  Take a good integration team and give them modern tools and processes, and watch them become great, saving time and accelerating value for your new digital health investments. 

For further reading, check out these resources: 

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