To truly capture the benefits of digital transformation, businesses need to integrate previously siloed applications and communications channels. Integrating systems can be a major headache, and no business is immune to the challenges of combining previously disparate communications channels into one.
Facing the challenges of integrating systems in healthcare
Digital transformation presents its own set of unique challenges for the healthcare industry. Data security and continuity of patient care are more critical for this industry than many others. There are gains to be made, however, in building software ecosystems that promote the integration of applications without sacrificing patient privacy or critical care. What challenges affect the healthcare industry specifically?
The most common communications challenge facing many healthcare facilities today are outdated communications systems that have fallen behind the market. Outdated systems can cause more hiccups than healthcare facilities realize. Outdated systems have high maintenance costs and don’t support customized processes or applications. Rather than allowing these challenges to limit what its organization was able to do, HealthEast took a more proactive approach. Here’s what they did.
HealthEast, the largest healthcare provider in Saint Paul, Minnesota’s East Metro, took a proactive step in managing its own digital transformation by creating a way to integrate the applications it needs to provide exemplary patient care and by updating its aging infrastructure.
Faced with an outdated Avaya communications system, HealthEast knew it needed to update its current system to better serve its customers and staff. 250 contact center agents handle a majority of calls for HealthEast’s four hospitals, one long-term and three short-term acute centers, as well as 14 clinics and specialty clinics. Instead of getting weighed down by disparate systems that weren’t communicating, HealthEast took a high-level approach and decided to build a strategic platform that revolved around how people worked within its organization.
Ending siloed communications
HealthEast observed that no matter what level of user—patients, physicians and staff—each needed a way to clearly communicate. If these channels of communications were to get siloed, HealthEast knew it would end up with a variety of products across its organization doing essentially the same work.
To tackle this problem, HealthEast brought all its communications back to the contact center agents. Rather than create APIs for each type of communication (which was both time- and cost-prohibitive), HealthEast used MuleSoft to build an enterprise service bus that allows HealthEast to connect any application, including voice, to any data source in the network.
Not every vendor was able to provide that level of integration and customization, however. HealthEast turned to Allstream and Mitel to develop a custom user interface using Mitel’s REST API toolkit. HealthEast can now collect and pass ANI and date of birth data from the IVR to the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. The IVR application communicates with the enterprise service bus, which communicates with HealthEast’s (EHR) system called “Epic”, and displays the customer’s data on one screen for their agents.
For frequent actions, like scheduling appointments, HealthEast has also created a button on the user interface that writes back to the enterprise service bus, collects customer data from Epic, and pops up a screen that allows the agent to schedule the call.
Building a communications ecosystem
HealthEast has built an ecosystem, rather than run disparate communications applications. With its robust application integration platform, HealthEast will be able to integrate even more applications to facilitate patient care.
HealthEast is dedicated to maintaining the ecosystem that works for their organization, rather than trying to force a “one-size-fits-all” solution into their system. With Allstream’s expertise and Mitel’s open API solution, HealthEast has been able to achieve the ecosystem they need.