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Am J Clin Pathol. 1996 Apr;105(4 Suppl 1):S25-32.

Using hub technology to facilitate information system integration in a health-care enterprise.

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Department of Pathology, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109-0054, USA.


The deployment and maintenance of multiple point-to-point interfaces between a clinical information system, such as a laboratory information system, and other systems within a healthcare enterprise is expensive and time consuming. Moreover, the demand for such interfaces is increasing as hospitals consolidate and clinical laboratories participate in the development of regional laboratory networks and create host-to-host links with laboratory outreach clients. An interface engine, also called a hub, is an evolving technology that could replace multiple point-to-point interfaces from a laboratory information system with a single interface to the hub, preferably HL7 based. The hub then routes and translates laboratory information to other systems within the enterprise. Changes in application systems in an enterprise where a centralized interface engine has been implemented then amount to thorough analysis, an update of the enterprise's data dictionary, purchase of a single new vendor-supported interface, and table-based parameter changes on the hub. Two other features of an interface engine, support for structured query language and information store-and-forward, will facilitate the development of clinical data repositories and provide flexibility when interacting with other host systems. This article describes the advantages and disadvantages of an interface engine and lists some problems not solved by the technology. Finally, early developmental experience with an interface engine at the University of Michigan Medical Center and the benefits of the project on system integration efforts are described, not the least of which has been the enthusiastic adoption of the HL7 standard for all future interface projects.

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