Icon Group has more than 2,800 employees working in areas including radiation oncology, medical oncology, haematology, chemotherapy compounding and pharmacy.
The group has 12 major clinical applications supporting 36 oncology centres and 60 pharmacies. Existing point-to-point interfaces to integrate these software applications and to connect to external healthcare providers had become a barrier to further growth.
After surveying the market for suitable integration platforms, Icon selected InterSystems HealthShare Health Connect from InterSystems.
Icon Group general manager of IT Ben Swindale said key factors included InterSystems' strong focus on healthcare, its global presence, the flexibility of the technology, and the product's ability to integrate core systems using HL7 messaging standards, including new standards such as FHIR.
Health Connect has reduced the time to integrate core applications with other information systems from months to weeks.
It has also improved the experience of patients, reduced the volume of faxed information and PDF discharge summaries, and increased service levels to client hospitals.
Within a short period Icon Group implemented 31 interfaces supporting six different HL7 message types – Admit Discharge Transfer (ADT), Referral (REF), Scheduling Information Unsolicited (SIU), Medical Document Management (MDM), Detail Financial Transaction (DFT) including Observation (ORU) – and connected to the systems of five external organisations.
"We've been able to provide a more welcoming experience for our patients," said Swindale. "We are not asking for the same information if our patient has been seen in another Icon facility."
Icon Group has also increased service levels to client healthcare providers. An Icon pharmacy can now receive patient demographic data and other information directly from hospital systems. The results of patient interactions are then able to be integrated back into the hospital's electronic medical record (EMR). "Using Health Connect and HL7 is faster, makes the hospital medical record more complete and accurate, and reduces the risk of manual data entry errors," said Swindale.
"Health Connect provides an easier path to deliver 'best in class' solutions for our clients," he added. "In the past, each integration was different, so we couldn't easily reuse existing structures. For a recent new pharmacy, it only took two weeks to get into production from design, and the new interface can be extended to other sites when they are ready."
Icon used InterSystems support on-site and online training to get its team up to speed, with implementation partner DWS augmenting in-house resources. "InterSystems has been really responsive. They spent time early on training us and helping us to build the first few interfaces," said Swindale. "DWS also helped us get the foundations in place, giving us their best practice on developing the system and structuring the interfaces."