Two of the hallmarks of Interbit Data’s products are their broad versatility and compatibility with different healthcare information systems.
Recently, we caught up with President and CEO Arthur Young for some insight on how the products work alongside electronic health records and other information systems, to dispel some rumors and to talk about how NetDelivery helps address shortcomings in interoperability.
There are rumblings that Interbit Data’s products are not compatible with all updates and versions of the various electronic health records software products from the likes of EPIC, MEDITECH, Cerner and so forth. True or false?
False. Unlike some systems, we don’t need an API from another system to extract information. We simply use our tools to take output from another system and convert that into information that we can use. So, it could be data from an interface, a print output, or a document. It doesn’t matter to us. We can deal with any system — HCIS, ancillary, or other.
And this holds true for both of Interbit’s product lines — NetSafe and NetDelivery?
Yes, whether it’s data from an HCIS or other system, we know how to “read” it and use it to drive our user-defined rules.
So what does that mean in terms of version updates from, say, MEDITECH or EPIC? How do you stay on top of that?
Depending on the changes, there may be no modification required. If modifications are required, or the update suggests different rules, it is easily modified by the user and/or our support team.
For example, patient demographics may drive rules for naming files or directing information to associated physicians. This information is typically included in header information, which probably won’t change from release to release. In fact, if a change makes a rule inoperable, we will move it to a holding queue and notify the user, allowing them to correct the rule and continue processing.
Are there any EHR systems that are more difficult to integrate with than others?
I never met an EHR that I didn’t like, no.
You’ve integrated Interbit products with each of the three major EHR platforms — EPIC, MEDITECH, Cerner. What about some of the smaller ones?
Our capability is more generalized, and it’s not just HCIS platforms, but it may also be ancillary systems, like EKG or other types of specialized departmental systems that can provide data that you want to distribute, or even to send information to an insurer to help investigate an appeal.
So, it’s not a matter of HCIS, it’s that we can accommodate any of the information feeds.
So in other words, you can address unique requirements presented by individual hospital departments, units, and so forth.
What are some novel ways that your customers are using NetDelivery?
Customers have used the system in a myriad of ways, not just distributing data and reports to clinicians, but moving data from one system to another and back, sending out financial information, mass mailings, and more.
Specific examples include using NetDelivery to securely distribute pay stubs to employees, or departmental budgets to designated staff, parsed by department. Some have used it when patient education is ordered. The system can transmit demographics and order information to a standalone patient education system for enrollment and follow-up.
One customer uses NetDelivery to process data from discharged patients and deliver it, with indexing information, to an external medical records archive system. Most customers, however, continue to use it to distribute clinical reports to designated clinicians using a choice of different delivery methods, such as fax, email, shared folders, EMR integration, and so forth.
You spent part of your earlier career working for an EHR vendor. How did you come up with the idea to start Interbit Data and offer these kinds of products? Where did you see the opportunity or the need?
I was able to observe some gaps that could be addressed through the use of technology, especially providing efficiency in operations.
Our first product, called NetAccess, was before VPNs were simple and commonplace. It focused on being able to access a host system remotely in a secure way. Once you have somebody accessing the system, they may want to print stuff, so how do you do a print job? And so that led to what we called NetPrint, which became the base for NetDelivery. Because of our belief in security, NetPrint was designed around our client, which authenticated itself and queried the host, pulling down data, providing end-to-end security.
One thing we know for certain in healthcare – there is no one solution which satisfies everyone, so we give choices. We maintain the legacy and we incorporate the new, so when a new delivery method and delivery preference comes out, we incorporate that into our delivery mechanism as an option for the user. But at the same time, we’re not getting rid of the capability to print out all the reports to put into a mailbox, which is what they did 20 years ago. We can do that while we’re sending direct messages.
What you’re really talking about is the limitations of interoperability, right?
Exactly, because the issue is not, say, delivering information in HL7. HL7 is not interoperability, it is an attempt to create a common language. Interoperability is the ability to get information to the user in a way that they can consume. And that’s what we’re doing.