REVIEWER: Mose Tsoka, IT manager for Pathology Medical Services.
BACKGROUND: Pathology Medical Services (PMS) and Nebraska LabLinc (NLL) are independent laboratories that specialize in anatomic and clinical testing for U.S. health care providers and patients. Headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, PMS and NLL offer state-of-the-art technology tailored to meet client needs and serve as a diagnostic and consultative resource to facilitate excellent patient care.
HARDWARE PLATFORMS: Windows 2003 Cluster System.
PROBLEM SOLVED: PMS and NLL have client bases with significant overlap. Recognizing that customers would prefer interaction with a single front end rather than two interfaces that operated very differently, the laboratories developed a strategy that called for joining the IT efforts from two companies with completely different systems and processes for placing orders and delivering test results. After extensive evaluation, Ensemble was selected for the Interface Engine Joint Project. Production rollout to customers began in 2006 and is continuing, with thousands of users expected to eventually take advantage of the integration engine. Resulting improvements in ease of use and customer satisfaction have made this Ensemble-based implementation highly successful.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Ensemble provides a unified graphical, XML and code-based development environment as well as a universal data and services architecture that offers consistent, efficient abstraction and representation of multiple programming models and data formats. That design not only supports fast development and integration but also will enable our plans to create composite Ensemble-based applications that will leverage our current core business systems while providing new capabilities that are critical to future success. Ensemble also offers a level of flexibility that is extremely helpful in terms of providing the wide array of adapters needed to integrate the disparate applications and data stores used by our customers.
STRENGTHS: First, Ensemble is very easy to use, which means that once a developer is comfortable with object programming, it is possible to rapidly build interfaces and establish connectivity. Second, Ensemble uses a high-performance distributed object database for managing and storing all metadata, messages and process-state information. This avoids the cost typically associated with a relational database while enabling real-time access to both live and previously processed messages for business activity monitoring, auditing, SQL-based reporting and management. Ensemble provides all of the features needed for rapid development and deployment.
WEAKNESSES: As with any other product, there is an initial learning curve. We are now utilizing internal resources with the object-oriented programming skills to completely utilize Ensemble's functionality. This will take our organization to the next level in terms of realizing our technology investment.
SELECTION CRITERIA: The ability to deliver high-performance, enterprise-level scalability and a rapid development and deployment environment that was easy to use were important selection criteria for our integration engine selection. With these and other technology-specific criteria, we were able to narrow our initial product possibility field from 10 down to three. At that point, it was InterSystems' commitment to building a true partnership that led to the final decision to go with Ensemble. The professionalism of the team that worked with us, references from other Ensemble customers who have been successful with the product and the fact that InterSystems was willing to do a proof-of-concept project were definitely important to our decision.
DELIVERABLES: The Ensemble-based Interface Engine is primarily used as an HL7 message parser for PMS and NLL and its clients. A bidirectional interface will be established where clients provide ADT/Order data to the laboratory from their EMR, HIS, LIS or our Web portal and, in turn, the laboratory delivers results to the originating system. The Ensemble system has been configured to print labels using DYMO Label Software.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Support from InterSystems has been outstanding throughout all phases of the implementation. We have established a working partnership that we expect to rely on for the long term.
DOCUMENTATION: Our developers have found Ensemble documentation to be both very understandable and comprehensive enough to enable ongoing development and maintenance with the documentation as the primary knowledge base.
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