May 23, 2022
Ninety-six percent of U.S. hospitals use Electronic Health Records (EHRs). That recent finding from the Office of the Coordinator for Health Information Technology illustrates the staggering need for delivering services and information to patients and provider staff within the EHR system. How can your EHR facilitate this?
In a word: Integration.
Today, eight companies comprise nearly 93% of the EHR market, with three companies—Epic, Cerner and MEDITECH—comprising more than 70%. Clearly, any payment solution you might consider should seamlessly integrate with your EHR platform. By connecting existing payment solutions applications with your existing EHR, you can reduce administrative burden on staff while delighting patients with critical information at their fingertips.
Integrations typically involve either using APIs (application programming interfaces) or are file-based. When looking at payment solutions, both API and file-based integrations with EHR systems make accessing and sharing data seamless and easy for providers to connect best-of-breed applications.
Not sure about the difference between API-based and file-based integrations? It really comes down to delivery. Connectivity that is powered by APIs means data is shared on demand in real-time without human interaction. File-based integrations send an aggregate of information at a single point in time, e.g., once a day, depending on system requirements.
In addition to real-time connectivity, API-based integrations offer multiple other benefits:
Accuracy: No human interaction allows the transfer of complex and voluminous data with dramatically reduced errors.
Efficiency: Once the API code is completed, there is very limited human involvement in data transfers.
Scalability: APIs eliminate the need to “start from scratch” when new systems and applications are developed to accommodate growing organizations.
Transparency: End-to-end visibility of all systems and processes is enabled with APIs, which lets you effectively track and monitor data, and to create robust reports based on specific and comprehensive datasets.
File-based integration requires EHR source data to be represented in a file (typically a CSV file) and then passed between different databases without contacting them directly in real-time. Why the delay? It’s not possible to continually write new lines of code to a CSV while another system is simultaneously reading them. Not all EHR systems have available APIs for integration, yet most accept CSV files via a manual import process. Therefore, choosing a file-based integration approach can save providers from costly projects to upgrade or replace systems that cannot accommodate APIs.
It should be stressed that relying on a batch file does not bring a disadvantage. The end goal is to find the easiest way to seamlessly connect a best-of-breed payment solution with your EHR. By accepting and managing payments using a dynamic online payment portal experience while posting payments back into your EHR as the record of truth supports important revenue cycle goals, such as increasing the dollars collected and the number of payments made.
No matter which type of integration connects best with your particular EHR system, make sure to have proven and secure processes in place that provide visibility into both your EHR and integrated payment solution. Then staff will be empowered to guide patients through their financial journey. And patients who prefer to self-serve will appreciate accessing current payment information in whatever way works best for them.