The reading room at Pinehurst Radiology is busy and that is due in part to iNTERFACEWARE?s Iguana HL7 interface engine.

When Steve Munie, CIO at Pinehurst Radiology in North Carolina, first joined the practice, he spoke with the CIO of the nearby FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. Munie wanted to coordinate and connect the networks of the hospital and radiology center. He saw the connection as a way to grow the small physician practice’s business, but he didn’t anticipate that the connected networks would pay dividends later in the practice’s life with its implementation of iNTERFACEWARE’s Iguana interface software.

“When I first joined this group, the first thing I did was sit down with the CIO of the hospital, and we worked on a plan to connect our networks,” said Munie. “That was some important groundwork for us because now with that connectivity in place, we can build these interfaces at will. The hospital is also connected to the surgical center, the medical clinic, and most of the providers in our community. That gave us an infrastructure to ride on to enable us to build out these interfaces. It can be done without that in place by building some virtual private networks, but we’re in a much better place with the kind of connectivity that we have through our relationship with FirstHealth.”

iNTERFACEWARE’s Iguana HL7 interface engine enables a facility’s applications to communicate with incompatible information systems. Whether it is an EMR, EHR, HIS, PACS, or any other system, Iguana offers the necessary tools to develop, test, deploy, and monitor your interfaces. Before implementing iNTERFACEWARE, Pinehurst Radiology relied on manual procedures to process imaging records and orders.

“Instead of building a custom connection between one system and another system, if you put this interface engine in the middle, it’s sort of like a universal translator,” said Munie. “Although they’re all speaking HL7, which is supposedly the same language, the computers are very particular about the way that they receive information. If you have one thing out of order, the computer just rejects it.”

With the iNTERFACEWARE solution, Pinehurst Radiology is able to send and receive studies from various facilities’ RIS as long as Pinehurst creates an interface to smooth the interaction—a simple process with the Iguana software. The largely transparent system rearranges information into the appropriate format and delivers it to the receiving RIS. But Munie points out another benefit of the system: when something does go wrong in the file transfer, the interface software affords another avenue to troubleshoot the problem.

“If we have a failed message, it allows us one more place where we can troubleshoot where the message failed,” said Munie. “Did it come out of the other sending system into iNTERFACEWARE but fail at the destination? In that case, the message is sitting in iNTERFACEWARE and we can correct the problem and resend from iNTERFACEWARE. Or, if it didn’t even get to the Iguana interface, we can see that it was actually never even sent from the originating system. It’s transparent in its usage, but it allows us one more point to look and troubleshoot.”

The decision to choose the iNTERFACEWARE solution over the myriad of other interface software engines was primarily an economic one. As Munie explains, not only are there more expensive and expansive interface engines on the market, there are also free solutions that Pinehurst Radiology could have selected. However, it was the combination of aggressive pricing and ongoing support that pushed the practice toward Iguana.

There were other financial considerations taken into account as well. As Munie explains, utilizing an interface engine for a single connection is not a cost-effective solution. However, if you intend on connecting your RIS to multiple organizations, the system quickly becomes the most frugal solution.

“For a single connection, it doesn’t make much sense, but as things grow, it’s a much more cost-effective solution,” said Munie. “It also will allow us, when it’s time to replace the RIS that we currently have, to put a new one in its place with little disruption to our business. If I had created an interface between our current RIS and the surgeons’ TouchWorks, I would have to do that project all over again if I replace my RIS. Now, I can put a new RIS in and massage that connection through Iguana.”

Steve Munie, CIO, Pinehurst Radiology

Fortunately for Pinehurst Radiology, FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital already has plans on creating a local health information exchange, which will allow the practice to utilize the full capabilities of the iNTERFACEWARE software engine.

“The local hospital group here is preparing to launch a private health information exchange within the community,” Munie said. “We’re in talks with them already to be the first in line to start feeding information into that exchange, external from the hospital. All I’m going to have to do is split a feed off of our Iguana interface, point it toward this new health information exchange, and start feeding it all of our new radiology reports. It doesn’t require me to go back to my RIS vendor. All of these connections are already built in the interface that we have. I personally can go in and just create another channel in our Iguana interface, point it to the new exchange, and start feeding all of our radiology reports to that exchange at very little or possible no cost.”

Munie cites an industry joke to justify the practice’s purchase of the interface engine: When you’ve seen one HL7 interface, you’ve seen one. The difficulty in transferring information from one system to another is complicated enough, but when you start adding multiple connections the way Pinehurst Radiology is, solutions like iNTERFACEWARE’s Iguana engine become crucial for effective workflow.