Thirteen Steps to Selecting the Right HL7 Interface Engine

By: John Traeger
Date: September 2013

​Selecting an interface engine for your healthcare organization is no trivial matter.  The decision you make will impact the reliability and flexibility of healthcare data delivery both within and outside your organization for years to come.  The costs are much broader than what you pay the software vendor - deployment, migration, training, and support hours required to adapt to a new engine are usually more than the software licensing fees.  And, the importance of “fit” cannot be overstated, thus internal costs will vary widely depending on the engine’s features and the context and culture of your organization.

When it comes time to select an engine, you may be tempted to not bother with a selection process, and instead go with what you think you want. However, remember: you only know what you know. What you don’t know can cause much pain and lost opportunity. And, a rigorous and defined selection process may prove beneficial to you and your organization in other ways. For you it may be simple job preservation - a failed interface engine replacement is not career enhancing.  For your organization it may not only be better for the bottom line (in terms of overall costs and organizational agility), but also provide an opportunity to clearly define the interface team’s role in your organization. In the process of discovering what the interface team wants as a central application for delivering interfaces they also learn more about how they function as a team which leads to improved effectiveness.

As for a good selection process, in our work in the industry over the years, we have found that following these 13 steps lead to success in selecting an interface engine selection:

  1. Develop requirements
  2. Create RFI
  3. Identify vendors and submit RFI
  4. Score RFI
  5. Invite vendors for sales demo
  6. Score sales demo
  7. Invite vendors for Proof of Concept
  8. Score Proof of Concept
  9. Send out RFP/RFQ
  10. Score RFP/RFQ including financial component
  11. Select Vendor
  12. Negotiate the final details and obtain final signatures
  13. Socialize the selection in your organization

At OTB Solutions, we have developed a white paper and interface engine selection toolkit that provides detailed information on how to execute the steps above. The toolkit includes:

If you are interested in this toolkit, contact