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Natalie Sevcik

The cost of scalability

We’re likely all familiar with the adage “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” We recognize there are tradeoffs when it comes to receiving something for nothing, and these promises usually end up with some sort of cost. Within healthcare, both on the provider side and the healthcare technology side, organizations are facing financial constraints and resource shortages. They’re looking for viable ways to reduce expenses and save costs.  

Open-source, or free versions of software, on the surface, can appear to save organizations money. When it comes to interoperability and integration software, though, the true cost is rarely free. Having a modern, enterprise-wide interoperability suite with a transparent yearly subscription fee can beat “free.”  

The ability to scale is critical for any company’s growth. Every leader wants to be in a position to add data exchange partners and new internal systems, all requiring data exchange capabilities. They also want to keep their internal customers happy and their technology running smoothly without having to add new IT resources or more staff. 

There’s a tipping point when open-source solutions can become a problem. At a certain threshold, an organization will max out their software and then replicate it on an additional server. And with time and more growth, they replicate on another server, and another one, and need more resources. New cloud instances or hardware costs begin to add up, and, as they do, the cost of free software becomes more expensive infrastructure.  

Yet, with Rhapsody, customers have a fixed cost for their integration software. They also have a fully-integrated single platform that can accommodate over 40 protocols like FHIR, HL7, SOAP, REST, JSON, and custom APIs. Customers get what they need, when they need it, and know their cost up-front.   

Another aspect of cost that free software overlooks is the burden placed on IT and administrative staff. As the number of servers and cloud instances increases, it can become too much for the existing staff to manage and monitor. Many times, servers have individual log-ons, won’t talk to each other, and require their own monitoring dashboards. The cost of free software in this case turns into more expensive maintenance and upkeep. 

Integration and data management work can be tedious, time-consuming, and one of many responsibilities a person may have. In a startup, for example, there may only be one or two software engineers, and if they have to focus on integration or data quality tasks, their time is not devoted to high-value work or innovation. In a health system with limited resources, the time IT staff spends on unfamiliar integration or data clean-up tasks means they can’t focus on improving operational or clinical efficiencies.  

Rhapsody believes every organization should focus on what it does best. This means providing care, bringing innovative apps to market, and improving the patient and caregiver experience. Rhapsody, the integration expert, will ensure the connections and interfaces allow for interoperability across clinics, health systems, regions, and nations. We will enable the exchange of clean, usable data from disparate sources through any required or desired protocol.  

Should a company be understaffed within IT or their engineers are overburdened, Rhapsody’s tech-enabled services are available. Whether using in-house resources or Rhapsody’s resources, it becomes easier and faster to stand-up new interfaces, modify existing ones, and roll these out to customers while maintaining a stable, scalable environment.  

A third hidden cost of free software is security. Now that an organization has many servers, it will require logging into and upgrading or patching each one separately. Not only is this time consuming, but it may also become an afterthought, or something avoided. Unpatched systems are more vulnerable to threats and successful attacks, especially if there’s direct access from the internet. The cost of free software then becomes legal fees, ransom demands, and potential loss of customers. 

When it comes to scalability, having one vendor whose suite of solutions has enterprise management capabilities is often the most cost effective. To calculate the total cost of scalability, it’s important to account for security, people, and effort. Before the allure of free drags down your productivity and financial outcomes, consider the total cost of ownership to address your interoperability, integration, and data management needs.  

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