Common Practices for EMR/EHR Integrations with Epic, McKesson, Athena Health

Keys to a Successful EMR/EHR Integration Using HL7v2, FHIR and Other Protocols

A guide to some of the best practices and protocols for EHR and EMR integrations

EHR integrationSetting up an integration correctly is vital for any business, but it is especially important for medical businesses that must be HIPAA compliant. Those businesses are in charge of keeping their patients’ and clients’ sensitive information safe and secure, while trying to run their business efficiently. Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Electronic Health Record (EHR) software are meant to help these businesses do both. Integrating their EHR or EMR software with their websites and other systems helps these businesses and their employees work smarter, not harder.

Security and Auditing

Security is a top priority when dealing with, storing, and transferring your clients’ sensitive medical information. You need to ensure that security and HIPAA compliance measures are in place. It is recommended that only the necessary integration points are exposed to the middleware/integration layer, which has to authenticate by using a specific internal IP address and a valid key value. This system should live behind the firewall and only transfer data from external systems to the internal EHR system securely after the data has been sanitized. 

To meet or exceed HIPAA requirements, you should require all data transactions, reads, creations, updates, and deletions to be logged and recorded. When data is “at rest” it should be securely encrypted to minimize risks of data being used improperly if your security measures are compromised.

Standards for healthcare data integrationsStandard Protocols

Health Level Seven, versions two and three (HL7v2, HL7v3) and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) are international standards and common interfaces for healthcare data transfers and integrations. You need to ensure that the integration layer of your systems that will communicate with your EHR software can work with these standards and protocols. Using these standards and creating a seamless integration will help enable seamless upgrades in the future.

Queuing Model

When performing an integration, it is vital to have a middleware layer that is modeled after and acts as a queue. The middleware layer is attached to both the EMR or EHR and the systems that they are integrated with. When data or information is being sent from the EMR to the other piece of software, the middleware layer receives, stores, and continually tries to send the data until it is successfully received by the recipient. This process works the same when data is sent from the other system to the EMR. This type of queuing model middleware layer insures that data is always successfully sent and received because it persistently and continually sends the data until it gets a message that it was successfully transferred.

EHR integration performancePerformance

How your EHR integration performs is directly affected by how it was set up. In order to have an integration that functions efficiently, you should make use of intelligent caching and asynchronous data processing and communication. Using asynchronous communication allows one system to send the other one data without having to wait for a response, just in case the other system is being worked on or running slowly. Intelligent caching enables only new or updated data to be transmitted, saving time, energy, and resources, while keeping data fresh and up to date. Using both of these processes allow your EHR integration to perform better, faster, and more efficiently.

Clarity Can Help

At Clarity, we understand how important it is to keep your patients’ information secure and private. Our team of experts has worked with numerous medical and healthcare businesses, helping them integrate their systems so they can work more efficiently while keeping their clients’ information safe. To find out more about how Clarity can help your business integrate its software and systems, call or click to contact us today!