Why Interfaces matter to your bottom line

Interfaces - healthcare IT’s least respected asset

Interfaces are the key to doctor’s offices and revenue cycle businesses not only surviving, but thriving. But in the eyes of some, interfaces are a necessary evil.

The Health Information and Management Systems Society, HIMSS, working meaning of interoperability, “the ability of health information systems to work together within and across organizational boundaries in order to advance the effective delivery of healthcare for individuals and communities,” defines the part of the HITECH legislation that promotes improved interfaces. Software systems for providers of all types must communicate patient data to improve patient care.

But you already know that. Here are three other critical things to know about interfaces to continue to enhance your business success.

3 Critical Things to Know about Interfaces

1. All software systems that work together use an interface

Did you know… PM and EMR software systems from different software vendors can function together with an interface? Because revenue cycle software and EHR software are built on different platforms for different purposes, interfaces provide an efficient and cost-effective way to exchange information between the two systems.

2. Interfaces are not always perfect

The challenge of an interface is to transfer information between two independent systems. Ideally you want protected health information (PHI) from the EMR to flow seamlessly into the PM system and vice versa. But technology and people who make that technology are not perfect. In order for programmers to design interfaces, they must understand HL7 messaging and what information may be stored on the system’s database.

Depending on the intricacies of each system, sometimes the transfer of information may be slow; or when either system has an update, the interface could be temporarily disrupted. Still, interfaces, the tried and true method to intersect two systems, are the most reliable way to make two excellent systems work together for you.

3. Implementing an interface between a PM & EMR is actually the best software solution.

You may not believe it, but creating an interface between a PM & EMR is actually a better solution. Some doctors are wary of using a seperate PM and EMR company for their business needs. And that’s understandable. It may be easier to work with one company for all of their data and A/R management.

But the risk of using one company as a “jack of all trades, master of none” solution may outweigh the benefits of ease. A medical biller may have a billing software she prefers to manage her multiple client accounts; a front desk person may have a preferred scheduling platform which allows her to manage doctor’s schedules efficiently; and a doctor may like an EMR for its intuitive workflow so he can better engage with his patients.

All of these unique needs may not be solved with one software vendor. More often than not you will need to find the best-of-breed practice management billing & scheduling option for the biller and front office people, and interface it with the best EMR option for the doctor.

Resources

http://www.himss.org/library/interoperability-standards/what-is?navItemNumber=13324

http://healthit.gov/sites/default/files/hitech_act_excerpt_from_arra_with_index.pdf

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