- Bidirectional communication: Total no. of endpoints needed is 2 (Each application has One export endpoint and one import endpoint). No. of endpoints required for each application is 4.
- Unidirectional communication: Total no. of endpoints needed is 2 (Sending application- One export endpoint and Receiving application- One import endpoint). No. of endpoints required for each application is 2.
Replacing or adding interfaces in the point-to-point mode
In a point-to-point interfaced environment, adding, changing, or replacing applications affects the entire system.
So, all the applications interfacing with the updated application, get affected when a changed or updated application is introduced in an interfaced environment. All the endpoints for the updated application must be created or changed to continue communication. Moreover, those software vendors who have interfaces attached to the application must modify or replace their endpoints.
For communication, the software vendor must create interface endpoints for each application when a new application is introduced in an interfaced environment, with which it will communicate. Moreover, for communicating with the new application, each of those software vendors will have to create an interface endpoint.
If an existing application is replaced, then you:
- Need to create the export and import endpoints attached to the replaced application.
- Need to modify most of the endpoints for applications that the replaced application interface with.
Since existing endpoints cannot be used without modification, the cost to add a new application is inordinately expensive. All applications which communicate with the new application must have additional endpoints, in addition to the expense of a new application’s endpoints.
Monitoring interfaces in point-to-point models
There is no centralized monitoring in point-to-point communication models. Due to the lack of centralized monitoring, the following results occur:
1. More money and time needed to monitor the interfaces
2. The absence of meaningful, system-wide information available on time
Advantages of Point-to-Point Approach
A point to point interface is the most cost-effective approach for one or two static, unchanging Interfaces.
Disadvantages of Point-to-Point Approach
1. Through continuous requests to application vendors to build interfaces, costs rise.
2. To determine connection status, no ability to monitor interface.
3. To determine acknowledgment and report on message transaction history, no ability to review message logs.
4. Due to long implementation times and unresolved interface errors, physician confidence in interface credibility erodes.
5. As the number of interfaces grows, interface complexity increases.
Interface Engine Approach
It is an approach that can transform or map the data to the receiving application’s requirements while the message is in transit. Hence, it can be accepted by the receiving application with Interface Engine Approach.
We can say that to simplify the connecting, maintaining, monitoring, and sharing of data between interfaces, an interface engine is designed. It can filter data or change the format of the data to match each application’s needs after taking data from a sending application.
For communicating between applications, this feature greatly reduces the number of individual endpoints required. As a result, it saves on the price of implementing an integrated system.
Adding or replacing new interfaces in an engine model
Since all messages flow through the engine in the interface engine model, therefore the process of adding or changing an interface is simpler than it is in a point-to-point model.
The Process to Replace Applications
For the replaced application, only endpoints that need to be created are the import and export endpoints to and from the new application. Moreover, it insulates the other applications from many of the changes.
The Process to Add Applications
Adding an application does not require as many endpoints to be created with an interface engine. Also, this engine can take the same data which it is already receiving. And, further, send it on to the new application.
Logging with an interface engine
This engine logs connection activity such as all the received and sent messages, errors, connection states, and alerts.
There is no way to tell what happened to a message, without logging or archiving of messages, once it was sent from an application. There is no doubt that communication problems occur from time to time; hence, logging is the only way to determine the root of the problem and correct it.
Advantages of Logging
Here are some of the advantages that the logging of an interface engine provides:
- It helps to track the flow of a message in the entire system.
- It carries various information about messages. For example, when a message was sent, acknowledged, and received. Even it tells us about what information the message contained.
- Easy to troubleshoot communication problems.
- Also, it helps to resend messages in case of loss.
Advantages of the Interface Engine Approach
1. To make changes in the format of messages to be sent or received reduces the dependency on multiple vendors.
2. Distributes interfaces to multiple applications productively and also leverages one import or export module from core applications.
3. Improved physician and client support through proactive interfacing monitoring and message log management
4. Using an interface engine enables flexibility to adapt to different HL7 message standards, XML healthcare standards, and many more.
5. By re-purposing an application’s import/export module to multiple applications, it lowers overall interface cost.
Disadvantages of the Interface Engine Approach
The only disadvantage is it adds an application to manage in the IT environment.
What to Choose- A Point-to-Point Approach or Interface Engine Approach?
This could be one of the challenging decisions for each provider: deciding which interfacing approach is the most productive and cost-effective for their organization. The point-to-point approach may work in case the interfacing environment is limited and focused.
Whereas, the interface engine approach will likely provide the most control as well as the most cost-effective results. That's possible if the interfacing requirements are growing internally to streamline workflow and externally to meet physician EMR requirements.
No doubt that there are costs to both approaches. And, it is essential to understand the cost structure of both. An interface needs to be purchased from the application vendor to open up that application in both cases. Though, the below factors can be the determining factor for the best approach:
Is purchasing the application interface once and then use an interface engine to leverage it more cost-effective?
Or to continue to request new interfaces from the application vendor each time a new request comes in is more cost-effective?
However, the advantage of each approach with the weighed costs will lead a provider to make the best choice for their operations.
Hence, this is all about HL7 Interface in detail. Well, we can see that using the HL7 Interface offers more control and saves time and money in a clinical or healthcare environment. Also, it simplifies the implementation of interfaces and reduces the need for custom interfaces.