Health Data Integration: Why It’s Good and How to Do It Right

When we talk about healthcare data integration, emphasis is often placed on  components, such as EHR systems.

Sometimes, the problem isn’t about collecting data, but how to manage and use it easily. Imagine if everyone in healthcare used the same system for their data – that would make things a lot simpler, right? But, unfortunately, that’s not the case. 

Different companies use different systems and ways to store their data. Even within the same company, information can be fragmented across various systems. Mishandling of this data can lead to repeated information, inconsistent care for patients, or issues when trying to share it.

For everyone to be able to access it, we need to bring all that information in one place. This is what we call “health data integration.” But how do we go about it? Should we use systems like Redox or InterSystems, or just combine everything directly? Also, what issues might a clinic face while putting all this data together? Let’s dive deeper to answer these questions.

What Is Health Data and Why Integrate It?

Health data is information about an individual’s or population’s health. It includes aspects such as medical history, diagnostic results, and beyond. It also extends to environmental and behavioral factors that might influence medical outcomes.

In the past, doctors used to gather all the health information they needed when a patient came to see them. They would use this data to decide on the best treatments based on evidence.

But now, things have changed thanks to digital health technology. Doctors can now get important information much faster. Plus, they can use these new technologies to keep the information safe and make sure patients can access it easily. We have fitness trackers and health apps that help us collect facts outside of a doctor’s office.

In short, the main goal of health data is to make care better and less expensive. This is helpful to the patients and hospitals alike.

For instance, by predicting which patients are at risk of certain diseases, we can intervene earlier and prevent expensive treatments later on. It can also help avoid unnecessary or duplicate tests and procedures. Patients and healthcare providers thus save money.

According to Statista, the amount of global health data grew a lot in 2020. To give you an idea, in 2013, there were 153 exabytes of data (that’s a lot!) created. But in 2020, there were about 2,314 exabytes of new ones created. Now, think about how much more data we’ll have in the future, especially with big data technologies like AI and ML revolutionizing medicine.

Thus, it’s fair to say that combining all these different sets of information isn’t always easy. Before hospitals can use any of this data, they need to clean it up and make it standardized. This means making sure all the different bits of data fit together well.

Nonetheless, cleaning and standardizing data are only one facet of the problem. Let’s look at other challenges medical groups might face when they try to put all their information in one place.

Health Data Integration Challenges in Hospitals 

Research by Techcrunch shows that 44% of healthcare firms avoid data integration due to inherent risks and obstacles. Here are some of these challenges.

Healthcare data comes in many forms. This variety makes it hard to combine it from different sources. With no universal format, researchers often struggle to access valuable information.

Handling hospital records lacks a standard method, leading to potential data loss. Unclear data ownership rules compound this issue. Hence, strict protocols to standardize data handling and clarify ownership are a must.

Often, medical teams don’t fully understand the rules about keeping patient information private when they have to share it. This is why health companies in the US are making more efforts to follow privacy rules. Statista reported that more than half of the C-level execs said they are either updating privacy rules or training their workers as part of their plan.

Healthcare firms use many apps that hold similar data. But this asset isn’t always accessible across platforms. Even small discrepancies can hurt data-driven insights. Uniformity across apps, through compliance standards, is crucial.

New medical devices and wearables are increasing the number of data sources. But integrating information from wearables can be tough due to its format and privacy issues.

Another Statista survey revealed that in 2022, there were over 340 cases of health data breaches in the US. To give you a perspective, back in 2005, there were only 16 cases.

So what does this mean?

As technology and healthcare systems get more advanced, we also need to do a better job at keeping data safe. It’s super important for medical companies to protect their records from hackers. They have to follow the rules that are already in place.

For example, HIPAA gives guidelines on how to protect data. Differently, HL7 standards direct the sharing information between different healthcare providers’ apps. But how many of our medical institutions are really following these rules all the way? Are they really using the best ways to bring all their facts together? If you’re unsure, contact us to audit these questions.

Need more data?Keep reading. We’ll look at the best ways to integrate data, and you can see how this compares to what you’re doing now and figure out what you might need to add or get better at.

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What Is the Best Way to Integrate Data? Redox vs. InterSystems vs. Direct Integration

At our company, The APP Solutions, we use Redox, Intersystems, as well as direct integration with systems like Epic and Cerner. At the end of this article, we’ll share a real-life example where we used this expertise to help a client.

But before we get to that, let’s compare Redox, Intersystems, and direct integration so you can understand what each one involves.

Redox stands out as a leading name in healthcare integration in the US. It ensures secure, real-time data sharing between over 400 software vendors and more than 4500 healthcare organizations across 90+ Electronic Health Records (EHRs), health information networks like Carequality, and more.

The Redox platform is a cutting-edge, standardized API that minimizes integration challenges, allowing health tech innovators to concentrate on building unique workflows and experiences.

  • User-friendly: Redox provides a single endpoint. So, you write the code once and use it across any health system. All integrations, regardless of the EHR provider, will have the same appearance and functionality.
  • Speedy: The design of Redox encourages reuse. It lets you benefit from the technical mapping and connectivity already established with over 4,000 organizations.
  • Scalable: Hosted on AWS, Redox caters to the demands of its entire network. It processes over 750 million messages every month. In other words, you’re assured of dependable and scalable deployments.
  • Tech supported: A dedicated team of specialists handles healthcare integration and data management. They work as an extension of your team. Everything from product design to implementation planning and long-term support are managed. 
  • Secure: Redox holds HITRUST certification and is SOC II compliant.

Redox is available in the US and Canada and follows an annual licensing structure. It additionally includes a base platform fee and a cost per transaction. The cost depends on the expected total message volume and the complexity of transforming to JSON/FHIR. Early-stage digital health companies can avail of discounts.

Redox offers different subscription durations at varied costs. Please note that extra taxes or fees might apply. In case you need assistance with this question, schedule a call, and we’ll help you find the best solution for you.

All Redox plans come with developer tools and sandboxes. You get a centralized dashboard and transmission logs, and more alongside those.

Redox is available as Software as a Service (SaaS). The application is hosted and operated over the Internet by the vendor. Customers are billed for usage through their AWS account.

InterSystems runs on four main solutions. These are Health Connect, InterSystems Iris, InterSystems Caché, and InterSystems Ensemble. 

Health Connect is a versatile healthcare integration engine that supports high-volume transactions. It engineers process management and monitoring for crucial applications. You can use it as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) or for on-premises/private cloud.

Health Connect brings along benefits like 

  • swift scalability;
  • zero-downtime stability;
  • faster interface development, 

They all translate to cost savings. Health Connect caters to healthcare delivery systems of all sizes, from small clinics to large, complex networks.

At the heart of Health Connect is an efficient, multi-model data engine. This smoothly manages different types of information at high speeds. Other functionalities are:

InterSystems Ensemble consolidates all the data you need to capture, share, understand, and use within your organization. There’s no need to invest time and money in assembling multiple tools to gain a comprehensive integration environment. Ensemble has everything covered.

Every component of your integrated solution is stored as an object in Ensemble’s efficient, multi-model data repository. This provides a unified and consistent view of the systems, applications, and services that make up your solution, significantly reducing the complexity often associated with integration projects. This makes solution development faster and management easier.

InterSystems IRIS represents the latest evolution of the InterSystems data management suite. It includes all the features of InterSystems Caché and Ensemble tools, and adds a number of exciting new abilities. This makes it easier to create and launch applications for businesses that are based in the cloud, are analytics-focused, and require superior performance and scalability.

InterSystems Caché makes it easier to design and launch applications. It offers multiple options for high-availability, including a sophisticated mirroring approach, giving your applications a high level of reliability. You would require less hardware than solutions from other vendors.

Caché comes with a flexible security model that’s easy to adapt. It includes simple provisioning features, making it effortless to control who can access your resources.

The general framework of Caché is simple, and its powerful system management tools mean that you need fewer database administrators (DBAs) than with other databases. In many cases, you might not even need a dedicated DBA at all.

Epic and Cerner l are major companies that provide technology for health information. These systems help big hospitals and health services in the U.S. to save and share electronic medical records easily.

Integrating a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) into the Epic Electronic Health Records (EHR) system necessitates a detailed process. It involves six key steps and typically takes about a year and a half. This task needs a clinical expert or health data integration company who can lead the process.

Cerner, on the other hand, focuses on making data accessible everywhere. Their Interoperability service ensures that healthcare professionals can get the information they need, no matter where it comes from. This aids in sharing data across different health services.

The specifics of integrating either Epic or Cerner are quite complex. If you’d like to understand more about them and see how they compare, we recommend reading this article where we discuss their differences.

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Action Plans for Tackling Data Integration

If you’re looking to weave together health information from various sources, it’s essential to have the right approach. Here’s what you can to effectively merge information at your healthcare practice.

To consolidate health data from various sources, make sure your technology can handle different data formats. Use integration tools (ESB or iPaaS) that can standardize this information, ensuring it’s accurate and easy to read.

Before merging data, review and update all information. This helps avoid integrating incorrect or outdated data. Back up all vital data to prevent any loss during the process.

Creating a structure for your data simplifies integration. Set up workflows for gathering, processing, cleaning, and sharing data from various systems.

These are storage solutions for data. They allow for data searching and analysis, although they work differently. Data warehouses are great for storing structured data, while data lakes can handle a mix of unstructured and structured data.

Data integration is an ongoing process. Determine which information needs to be integrated first and which can be done later to avoid disruptions.

Traditional IT systems in many organizations can’t exchange data with modern systems. In contrast, using cloud-based solutions can provide a unified view of data from different systems.

Consider how the end-user will see the data. This will help you present your findings in a meaningful way, making it easier for users to access and utilize the data effectively.

Health Data Integration with The APP Solutions: Orb Health Case

Orb Health provides a service that makes healthcare easier to manage for health centers, systems, hospitals, and unions. It helps improve patient results and makes the transition from traditional fee-for-service to value-based care smoother, without needing to add more staff or infrastructure.

The APP Solutions helped Orb Health to extend their service to more patients. We set up remote contact centers that are connected to electronic medical records (EMR), helping to provide a seamless healthcare service. 

Here are the solutions we delivered:

Redox Integration

Redox integration simplifies the process of connecting digital health products to different electronic health records (EHRs) systems, saving time and avoiding complications.

Genesys Integration

This solution allows existing workforce management software to easily integrate with other systems, which makes setting up a contact center quicker and easier.

Power BI Integration

We opted for Power BI integration so that the company could take data from various sources and turn it into clear and interactive insights. By doing so, they would better visualize and understand important data.

Data Security (HIPAA Standard)

Ensuring that sensitive patient data is stored securely was a top priority, and necessary to meet HIPAA standards.

As a result of these solutions, Orb Health saw significant improvements, such as:

54% | 22% ED / Hospitalization Decrease

  • 70% Care Gap Measure Closure
  • $6 MM Annually Medicare Savings Per 1k Patient
  • 26% Overall Patient Savings


Connecting health information is a special task for every company. If you’re thinking about using Redox, InterSystems, or direct integration, we suggest you engage an experienced team. At The APP Solutions, we assist health groups to surmont their integration woes and build interconnected systems for improved patient results.

Do you need help connecting health data or EMR/EHR integration?

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HL7 Integration: A Reference for Its Benefits, Implementations, and Applications

Tons of healthcare data are produced and analyzed for important insights every second. Currently, around 30% of the world’s data is being created from healthcare industries. And the estimated compound annual growth rate is set to hit 36% by 2025. Hospitals and healthcare institutions have various computer systems for various activities, such as billing and patient tracking. These ecosystems need to connect when new information is sent or pulled. Yet, not all of them can do that.

HL7 International provides a range of standards, guidelines, and methods for healthcare systems to connect. These data standards ensure information is shared and processed in a uniform and consistent way. The ultimate goal is to lower the geographic barriers and variability that can come from medical care. Despite its importance in today’s interconnected world, healthcare providers may need to know the advantages of integrating HL7. This post discusses the core relevance of HL7 integration, its benefits, and various cases where it can be used in medical practice.


hl7 fhir

What is HL7?

HL7 (Health Level Seven) is a set of standards formulated to enable sharing of healthcare-related information between different systems, such as EHRs (Electronic Health Records), healthcare providers, and insurers. Created in 1989 to tackle the interoperability issue among healthcare systems, this standard provides guidelines to facilitate data sharing and bridge the gap between healthcare applications. 

Currently, two versions are being used: HL7 v2, which is still most widely employed and uses a delimited format to transfer data, and HL7 v3, which utilizes eXtensible Markup Language (XML) to represent self-describing data.


The seven-step communication process used by HL7 to ensure compatibility between systems is as follows:

  1. The physical connection to a transmission medium.
  2. Data linking to control errors between adjacent nodes.
  3. Network routing of information.
  4. Control of end-to-end communication.
  5. Non-communication problem-solving.
  6. Conversion of information.
  7. Provision of services to applications

An interface engine uses all the layers mentioned above to collect and distribute HL7 data, with layers 1 through 4 handling communication and 5 through 7 handling functionality.


hl7 fhir integration

What is the Difference between API and HL7?

APIs and HL7 facilitate communication and data sharing between differing programs. However, a firm grasp of health level seven and application programming interfaces is required to appreciate the distinctions between the two.

Health Level 7 (HL7) was the initial standardized data interchange format utilized in healthcare. It supplied a uniform structure that applications could use for transmitting data about patients to each other. Despite this, encryption and strong integrity checking were not incorporated when the format was first introduced. Nevertheless, many applications are still relying on it.


The Final Rule of the 21st Century CURES Act is a significant development in healthcare data transfer. It allows patients to use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to access their health data via their preferred application, thereby fulfilling the original purpose of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The Security Rule requires organizations to secure data transmission, imposing additional controls to protect the integrity and detect any tampering in real-time. APIs offer a modernized alternative to HLA, using a uniform authentication format for applications to identify users correctly. Many websites and applications are currently employing this format.

If you want to know more about HL7 FHIR integration, you should definitely listen to our CareMinds podcast, particularly the episode with Redox specialist Nick McKenzie.

Nick went on to work with the EHR integration architecture, which he compares to building a house, where an entire team of contractors, roofers, electricians, and plumbers work cohesively under an architect. 

“I was always fascinated with this idea of being the translator helping clinicians translate their requirements into what they wanted the system to be designed and then translating back to the technical teams how to execute and interestingly enough. It’s all that product management really is.”

Watch other episodes as well!






Application Programming Interface

Human Level 7


APIs, including SMART and FHIR, can support standard medical portals

Does not provide comprehensive support for technologies

Patient outcome

Due to the convenience of “on-demand” data retrieval, APIs are favored over HL7

Data is provided by HL7 on a subscription basis, implying that it will be obtained regardless of whether or not it is immediately required


More precise definitions of security rules are provided by APIs, further facilitating interoperability between systems

HL7 can secure data but with limitations in encryption and robust integrity checking


Benefits of HL7 for Medical Facilities 

The following are reasons why using HL7 is so important in the healthcare industry.

Healthcare professionals can utilize HL7 to quickly and conveniently access patient data from multiple sources, making savvy decisions promptly. 

HL7 provides a standardized language for data and information exchange, thus promoting unification in the healthcare system by ensuring that all data is registered, stored, and exchanged in the same way.

By taking advantage of HL7, medical facilities can better administer their patients’ care by providing an encompassing view of their medical history; thereby allowing caregivers to readily access patient information and make the best decisions for their treatment. 

Hospitals can establish a standard data-sharing methodology between various systems, guaranteeing that data is accurately and securely shared and enabling healthcare providers to make informed decisions concerning patient care.


data interoperability

HL7 Applications in Healthcare

Here are some examples of its application in the healthcare industry.

Integrating their existing patient records system with an HL7-compatible system allows a medical center to access patient records and information stored in multiple departments swiftly and effortlessly. This facilitates a hospital’s ability to identify and treat patients quickly and reduces expenditure and time on needless paperwork.

Implementing HL7 integration allows laboratories to rapidly and accurately process patient data and results. It promotes the rapid detection of potential issues and addresses them instantly, resulting in enhanced accuracy and effectiveness in testing results.

Linking their existing patient records and billing systems to an HL7-compatible system helps a healthcare provider quickly and easily process patient claims. This enabled the healthcare provider to save time and money on manual data entry while ensuring a higher accuracy rate.

HL7 integration allows for interoperability between providers, making it possible to share clinical and administrative data. For instance, physicians can conveniently send laboratory results to specialists for a second opinion.


hospital information systems

HL7 integration enables EMR systems  to communicate with one another and share patient data. This helps reduce the time spent inputting information manually and eliminates the possibility of data entry errors.

What Does It Mean to Integrate HL7 and FHIR?

As already discussed, HL7 are standards used to define how healthcare information is collected, interpreted, and shared, making data integration more efficient and free of errors. Running a healthcare organization requires using multiple systems and technologies by doctors, administrative staff, accounting, and pharmacy staff. Most of these platforms are isolated and written in different programming languages, resulting in communication hiccups that can negatively affect patient care. Implementing HL7 integration allows 80% of the interface to be defined, leaving 20% of the interface available for customization.


FHIR (fast health interoperability resources), developed in 2011 by HL7, is the latest development in HL7 standards. Its integration allows improved security measures and larger data formats. FHIR incorporates functionalities of previous HL7 standards and additional features to make interoperability among healthcare applications even more efficient. Using web standards, communication across all systems can be achieved irrespective of system languages and specifics while removing the need to connect interfaces manually. Some technologies known to run using this standard include:

  • REST
  • XML
  • JSON
  • ATOM
  • OAuth
health information systems

HL7 Interfaces, Engines, and Strategies

With different technologies used in various areas of a healthcare facility, a need for a standard approach to the handling of medical data resulting in substantial productivity delays and increased patient risks. With the segregation of data resulting in several inefficiencies, the need for a healthcare industry-accepted standard way of sharing healthcare data among several departments was apparent, resulting in the creation of HL7.

An interface defined in healthcare IT structures refers to programs implemented to facilitate seamless data transfer between systems using different messaging protocols. A typical example of an interface will be one connecting systems in the lab, pharmacy, registration, and an electrocardiogram machine.

Interface engines (integration engines) act as the guide to the exchange of data across systems from which it gets its nickname as the “traffic cop.” These engines act as the hub of a healthcare data exchange in a health facility. They are responsible for receiving, routing, and translating messages into the right formats to be understood by the recipient system, simplifying health integration processes. 

Other ways interface engines communicate include; File transfer protocols (FTP), Direct database updates, and XML.

Examples of highly rated interface engines include;

  • Datagate
  • Rhapsody
  • Corepoint
  • Cloverleaf
manual interface coding


Several strategies are employed in the integration of HL7.

  • The development of a method of interoperability standards from a reference information model
  • Creation of awareness on the benefits of information standardization to the healthcare providers and the public
  • Creation of clear standards in health information sharing between systems
  • Encourage HL7 interoperability use through affiliation with establishments
  • Ensure HL7 standards are up to standard through collaboration with healthcare IT users
  • Foster the participation of healthcare industry experts in HL7 to develop healthcare data standards in their various areas of expertise
    duplicate paper records

    FHIR Integration: Elevating Healthcare Information Exchange

    Instead of rushing to implement the latest phase of your HL7 data integration, you should assess your health system and design a custom interface solution that meets your specific needs while still being affordable and scalable as your organization grows. Successfully integrate HL7 calls for a specialized interface team and coordinated testing from industry professionals.

    Integration of FHIR entails three main steps:

    • Interface planning
    • Developing an interface
    • Final testing and validation


    Data entry duplication can be reduced, while user workflow is enhanced by employing application interoperability if HL7 interfaces are properly integrated. In a healthcare setting, HL7 interfaces can be found everywhere. Among these are “Admission, Discharge, and Transfer” (ADT), “Detailed Financial Transaction” (DFT), “Observation Results,” “Orders,” “Medical Document Management” [MDM]), “Master Files Notification” [MFN] and “Billing Account Record” [BAR] and so on.

    Your business model and the features of each interface should be carefully evaluated before you settle on an integration strategy. This procedure will help you determine what features your ideal interface must have. Proper project execution also necessitates identifying and including the appropriate staff and clinicians.

    After these have been discovered, a thorough examination of the procedure is necessary to detect data errors.

    This step is further subdivided into:

    • Execution phase during which interface engineers are hard at work developing and specifying each port and its associated data
    • Interface building entails creating and incorporating necessary interface specifications, data types to be processed by the interface, and record numbering schemes
    • Testing: as the name suggests, testing is where flaws in the flow of information from its originator to its intended recipient are discovered
    seamless integration fhir

    The complete HL7 integration is examined in this stage, from its structure to its content. To put it simply, this is the most crucial stage. It is also sub-divided into:

    • Unit testing: The goal is to catch mistakes the interface engineer may have missed, resulting in more precise data.
    • Integrated testing: During this testing stage, data is examined both from the upstream and the downstream perspectives.

    Final Thoughts 

    In conclusion, HL7 integration is an important process for the healthcare industry, enabling hospitals to access and share patient data in a secure and efficient manner. With the right tools and expertise, organizations can easily implement HL7 integration and benefit from its many advantages. We recommend you start by assessing your needs and resources for the project. The team at The APP Solutions has years of experience in the healthcare IT industry and is highly knowledgeable in the complexities of data integration. We work with you every step of the way to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that all of your needs are met.