How To Build A Healthcare Integration Platform

Healthcare organizations need to contend with challenges like rising costs, the growing complexity of healthcare, and stringent regulatory requirements. Disparate systems and silos add to these challenges, so healthcare organizations are turning to healthcare integration platforms to address them.

If you are a senior leader in a healthcare organization, then you are likely wondering how to build a healthcare integration platform. That’s exactly what I explain in this guide.

Contents

The global market for healthcare: High costs and sub-optimal value
What challenges does the healthcare industry face?
How do healthcare integration platforms help?
An example of a healthcare integration platform
Security risks: A key consideration when building a healthcare integration platform
Building a healthcare integration platform
Planning to build a healthcare integration platform?

The global market for healthcare: High costs and sub-optimal value

The global healthcare market is very large, however, the spending doesn’t always translate to value. The following pieces of statistics illustrate this:

 

What challenges does the healthcare industry face?

Globally, the healthcare industry faces several challenges, e.g.:

      • The healthcare sector is plagued by a shortage of talent and training is costly. Read more about this challenge in “Here are 6 major issues facing healthcare in 2019, according to PwC”.
      • An aging population: Several large countries have an aging population profile, and this results in higher healthcare costs.
      • Higher occurrences of chronic diseases: Diseases like Diabetes and heart ailments are increasing due to the sedentary lifestyle and processed foods.
      • Healthcare systems across stakeholders like providers and payers lack interoperability since there are too many silos.
      • Cybersecurity: Healthcare organizations deal with Protected Health Information (PHI). Such organizations operating in the US need to comply with stringent regulations like the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA). Cybercriminals often target healthcare organizations to get access to PHI.
      • Invoicing and payment-processing systems need to improve in this industry.
      • Patients are increasingly paying a larger amount of their medical bill, therefore, they demand a better experience. However, the healthcare sector isn’t quite prepared to deliver that yet.
      • The sector lacks outcome-based incentives since payment is based on the quantity of service delivered.
      • There is too much data in the healthcare sector, however, healthcare organizations aren’t quite ready to gain insights out of it.

Read “5 major challenges facing the healthcare industry in 2019” for more insights.

How do healthcare integration platforms help?

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Let’s elaborate on the silos in the healthcare industry and the lack of interoperability. This has adverse impacts on this industry, e.g.:

      • Lengthy processes that lack efficiency;
      • Healthcare data breaches;
      • Sub-optimal coordination of care for patients;
      • Doctors and nurses filling out too many forms instead of treating patients and caring for them;
      • Costly supply chain and maintenance.

Healthcare integration platforms address these by integrating clinical, claims, billings, and all other key data sets in a secure manner. They deliver the following advantages:

      • Healthcare integration platforms enable healthcare organizations to secure their data and comply with regulations like HIPAA.
      • These platforms offer interoperability, therefore, healthcare organizations can improve their operational efficiency.
      • Healthcare integration platforms improve health management and primary care, moreover, they enable integrated care management.
      • Healthcare organizations can optimize their network performance and utilization.
      • Reports and dashboards provided by healthcare integration platforms offer key insights on quality and other metrics.

Read more about these platforms in “Integrated healthcare: building blocks of successful healthcare services and technology”.

An example of a healthcare integration platform

Let’s review an example of a healthcare integration platform so that you can understand what you should implement in your healthcare organization. HealthLX, a healthcare IT solution provider offers its Healthcare Integration Platform (HIP), and this platform has the following features:

      • This HealthLX HIP platform enables a healthcare organization to connect to its Healthcare Service Bus (HSB) connection suite, and then the organization can connect to the systems with which they want to integrate.
      • There are several connection suites, e.g., smart device IoT suite, Redox canonical suite, case management suite, etc.
      • With the HealthLX HIP, you can connect to Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems like Allscripts, Cerner, etc., moreover, you can connect to different healthcare databases.
      • You can use the HealthLX HIP on the cloud, alternatively, you can run it on-premises.

 

Security risks: A key consideration when building a healthcare integration platform

No discussion about a healthcare integration platform is complete without covering the application security risks. Such a platform must comply with stringent regulations like HIPAA. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) has identified key application security risks in its “OWASP top 10 application security risks – 2017” report, and a few examples are as follows:

        • Injection: Cyber-attackers can inject malicious data that can alter application code like SQL statements.
        • Ineffective authentication: Cybercriminals can hack a system by using lists of user-id/password combinations, or by launching brute force attacks.
        • Exposing sensitive data: Applications that don’t safeguard sensitive data are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
        • XML external entities (XXE): Applications allowing XML inputs from untrusted sources are vulnerable to this risk.
        • Incorrect implementation of identity and access management is a key risk.
        • Systems lacking the required security configurations are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
        • Cross-site scripting (XSS): Applications that accept user-inputs without validation are vulnerable to XSS attacks.
        • Applications using outdated software with known vulnerabilities are easy targets for cyber-attackers.

You need to read the OWASP Top 10 – 2017 detailed report since it recommends various mitigation measures for these risks. Consider using Static Application Security Testing (SAST) tools when you build a healthcare integration platform, moreover, you should also consider using Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST) tools.

Building a healthcare integration platform

I will now take you through the steps to build a healthcare integration platform, and these steps are as follows:

1. Agree on the project scope

You need to work with your business stakeholders to agree on the project scope, and this involves the following:

        • Identify the various health data standards the proposed integration platform should support, e.g. Health Level 7 (HL7), Consolidated Clinical Data Architecture (C-CDA), Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), etc. You can read “How health data standards support healthcare interoperability” for more information.
        • Determine the integrations you need in addition to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), e.g., Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Analytics, etc.
        • You need to determine whether you will implement the proposed web-based healthcare integration platform on-premises or on the cloud.

2. Select the right SDLC model

Developing a healthcare integration platform is a strategic project in a healthcare organization, and such projects have very high visibility. Moreover, a healthcare integration platform must have a set of well-defined features, therefore, the requirements will need to be defined upfront.

The Waterfall SDLC model suits such projects since you will have reviews after every phase, which helps in mitigating the delivery risks. You can read more about Waterfall in “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?”.

Read How We Helped a Marketing Company to Build a Back-Office Custom Ads Dashboard

3. Build a project team

You need the following roles in the team:

        • A project manager (PM);
        • IT architect;
        • Business analysts (BAs);
        • UI designers;
        • Web developers with Node.js skills;
        • Testers with experience in application security testing;
        • DevOps engineers.

If you decide to deploy the proposed healthcare integration platform on the cloud, then I recommend you use Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), i.e., the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering from AWS. In that case, you will also need an AWS certified solutions architect in your team.

You might wonder whether you can execute this project with freelancers. I recommend that you hire a field expert development team instead, given the complexity of the project. You can read “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams” to understand more about this.

4. Project planning

Your PM now needs to plan the project thoroughly, and this involves several aspects:

        • Getting the BAs to develop detailed requirements so that a budget-quality estimate can be created.
        • Working with the architects to formulate the right approach for the project, e.g., using a Healthcare-Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (HiPaaS) to expedite the project, choosing the right tools, etc.
        • Developing a detailed project plan and acquiring the right resources like AWS EC2, etc.

Our guide “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” will help in understanding the importance of this.

5. Use a HiPaaS platform

You can significantly expedite your project by using a HiPaaS platform since such platforms enable integration with healthcare data formats, healthcare EDI, etc. via application programming interfaces (APIs). DevCool offers such a HiPaaS platform, and it has the following features and advantages:

        • This platform from DevCool complies with HIPAA.
        • It supports healthcare EDI integrations, moreover, it enables you to integrate various health data standards like HL7, C-CDA, FHIR, etc.
        • The platform offers React and Node.js APIs, and you can code your web-based healthcare integration platform using these.
        • DevCool HiPaaS uses Kafka, a distributed messaging system for message delivery.
        • You can expedite your development using CI tools like Jenkins, and tools like Kubernetes to manage containerized workloads.
        • The platform also supports Docker, the popular container so that you can scale your app easily.
        • With DevCool HiPaaS, you can deploy your healthcare integration platform both on-premise or on managed cloud services like AWS.
        • This platform makes it easy to search and retrieve structured and unstructured medical documents.
        • Your app will be able to transform and translate the data into any of the popular healthcare data standards.
        • You can access the comprehensive healthcare data lake that DevCool HiPaaS has, which further helps your application to scale. This data lake is built on the Graph database.
        • DevCool HiPaaS has integrations with several key players in the healthcare space, e.g., LabCorp, CVS, Facets, Cerner, Allscripts, etc.
        • With DevCool HiPaaS, you can also get genomics data available on MariaDB.

You need to contact the DevCool sales team via its website to get the pricing information for its HiPaaS.

6. Develop, test, and deploy the app using the required tools

I recommend that you use Node.js to code the healthcare integration platform using the Node.js APIs that the DevCool HiPaaS platform offers. To download and install Node.js, visit its website. This open-source runtime environment offers many advantages, e.g.:

        • It supports asynchronous, event-driven programming, and this makes it an ideal choice for developing scalable web apps. Scalability is an important consideration for a healthcare integration platform.
        • js is good for streaming, and this is another advantage while developing a healthcare integration platform.
        • Since Node.js is based on JavaScript and many programmers know JavaScript, they find it easy to work with Node.js.
        • There is a vibrant developer community that supports Node.js, and this community has created many shared open-source tools and frameworks. This helps programmers to improve their productivity.

I have earlier explained the advantages of Node.js in “10 great tools for Node.Js software development”.

You should consider using an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) like IntelliJ IDEA for coding the app, moreover, you need this Node.js plugin for IntelliJ IDEA.

When we come to testing and deployment, I recommend that you use a mature DevOps suite of tools, however, there is more. A healthcare integration platform supports a highly regulated industry, and you should think beyond just DevOps, and embrace DevSecOps.

DevSecOps is about addressing application security risks from the very beginning of the development lifecycle, and it’s completely different from carrying out security testing at the very end. Read more about it in “What is DevSecOps? Developing more secure applications”.

I recommend that you use the AWS DevSecOps tools, which will enable you to automate security testing and security auditing as part of your Continuous Integration (CI)/ Continuous Delivery (CD) pipeline. You can read more about this in “Implementing DevSecOps using AWS CodePipeline”.

Planning to build a healthcare integration platform?

APIs, tools, frameworks, and guides can help, however, a project to build a healthcare integration platform will be a complex one. It’s a strategic project, and I recommend that you engage a reputed software development company. Read our guide “How to find the best software development company?” since it will help you with due diligence.

Download Our Project Specification Template

Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
I love all things blockchain and related to app development. What time I have when I am not busy writing for the DevTeam.Space blog of over 350 articles, I spend sitting around wondering what the future will look like 50 years from now.
Aran Davies