Industry

How to Talk About Integration When Selling to Health Systems

Posted November 30, 2022
By Nichole Wolf

When selling to or working with a health system, it’s crucial to be able to communicate resource expectations and strategy around integration. According to 2021 HIMSS research, health systems rank EHR and enterprise system incompatibility as the #1 or #2 biggest obstacles when considering third-party solutions. This post will help sales teams better understand how to effectively pitch integration as part of a sales strategy, as well as how to set expectations for a successful integration project.

Keys to Pitching Integration

You’ve created an amazing product and are ready to sell to health systems, but how do you get the right prospects to bite? Focusing on answering these key questions can make the difference between being passed over and landing the sale.

Know Your Project Scope

When selling to a health system, be prepared to answer, “How much time and effort will this implementation take from my team?”

Health systems often have a different concept of what implementing a new application costs and may tend to view it as a much larger project than it actually is. It’s difficult to accurately estimate the exact time required to complete the project due to a variety of factors. But, by partnering with an integration expert like Redox, you’ll be able to shorten the time to value for your customers, as well as reduce the need for intensive resources from the health system’s IT staff. Make sure to highlight this point and convey that this project will be different. When it comes to marketing and selling your product, these two approaches will help you achieve success:

SALES STRATEGY #1: Sell the benefit of your product in tandem with your integration strategy. Previous schools of thought have led sales teams to believe that integration is an afterthought. However, according to our HIMSS research, 84% of health system respondents stated that integration with their EHR was the most compelling reason for them to consider third party tools and technologies. More and more health systems are considering an integrated product strategy to provide more considerable ROI and reduced time to value – so integration strategy should be a critical component of your sales conversations. 

SALES STRATEGY #2: Start with a read-only integration scope. Focusing on integration needs that only require the health system to send data to your application is typically less time intensive and stressful for the health system. This ensures you aren’t impacting end- user workflows and requires minimal configuration changes on the health system side. Learn more about different paths to integration and how to craft a tailored strategy in our Integration Avenues webinar with Current Health.

Be Prepared to Compromise

Integration projects usually take some degree of compromise, and arriving at a solution that works for everyone involved will require flexibility and finesse. For example, let’s say you’d like to auto-create patients in your database and push back discrete data to the EHR. To do this, you would need to consume a Patient Demographics feed. Making that happen might take two steps: 

Step 1: Remove the need for your end-users to create patients in two systems 

Step 2: Send information back into the EHR for consumption. 

IT might say they can do Step 1, but Step 2 just isn’t feasible. As an alternative, they could consume a PDF report of the information in the EHR. Be ready and flexible to work with what the health system can accommodate, and you’ll have a better chance of selling your product.

Clearly Define Your Integration Strategy

Once you’ve gotten the health system interested in your product, you’ll need to be able to articulate what integration looks like. Some organizations will want a detailed project plan and others will be satisfied just knowing that it’s available. Play it safe by preparing yourself for both (the rest of this guide will help you with this).

Talking About the Project

Key Players

To ensure that everyone is on the same page and referring to the same people, it’s helpful to know who’s going to be working on your integration project from each party involved. Here is a non-exhaustive list of typical titles and roles of some health system employees who will help complete this project, as well as a few other key players.

Health System Project Champion

Provides context for why the application is being installed, acts as the decision maker purchasing the project, and is the escalation point with project issues – titles could include CMIO, CTO, or department head/chief.

Health System IT Lead 

Serves as primary contact for IT department and project issues. 

Health System Network Analyst

Assists with VPN connectivity and troubleshooting.

Health System Interface Analyst

Configures the interface to send/ receive messages and sends test messages.

Health System EHR Analyst 

Makes updates to the EHR if needed and assists with workflow testing.

Application Lead

Provides application-level project management (e.g. development completion) and leads workflow discovery.

Redox Team 

A variety of team members at Redox will help facilitate project progress, including a dedicated Integration resource.

Average Connection Time

For an initial connection with Redox, go-live will occur approximately 10-14 weeks after kickoff. Note that this timeline is a rough estimate and is dependent on a variety of factors, including the health system partner’s preparation and responsiveness, as well as the scope of integration. According to Redox’s proprietary HIMSS research surveying 100 health system respondents, over half stated that 4-6 months was an acceptable deployment time to integrate a new technology system with their EHR. Therefore, Redox’s projected implementation time should meet or exceed health system expectations.

Note that for Redox customers, the number of past integrations completed has a direct positive correlation on the speed of future integration projects. For example – in 2020, Redox facilitated 965 go-lives with an average of 58 days for project completion. In 2021, Redox completed more than 1,700 go-lives with an average of 39 days for completion. 

Integration scaling and efficiency graph

The more that you scale with Redox as an integration partner, the faster that you’ll be able to deliver value to your customers.

Timeline

When working with Redox on integration, every project will begin with a kickoff call. This meeting should be attended by the health-tech company, the health system, the EHR (if necessary), and Redox. During this meeting, we’ll review the integration strategy we’ve developed together. More specifically, we’ll discuss how we’ll leverage existing health system feeds and how we’ll accomplish the actual integration project. In this stage we’ll also field any security, compliance, or operational questions.

Our projected timeline includes external factors that may influence the actual project duration, such as health system prioritization, interface availability, or your application complexity. 

The graph below demonstrates an overview of expected integration tasks to be completed by both Redox and the health system team, starting with kickoff and connectivity and ending with go-live.

Timeline for integration

How Redox Changes the Game

When pitching integration to a health system, your sales team might be asked about your integration partner, or the health system might want more of a behind-the-scenes look at how you approach integration projects. Many health systems might not need a high degree of detail around this process, but just want to ensure that the integration partner implements strong security practices. 

Below are key elements of the Redox value proposition and how we differentiate ourselves in the interoperability space. Your sales team can use this messaging to paint a clearer picture of the steps in an integration, as well as demonstrate how your integrated product strategy will be faster and more seamless since it’s powered by Redox. This messaging can also help when speaking to investors, internal stakeholders, or new potential partners.

The Redox platform is radically different from traditional point-to-point integrations —our modern API exposes a single connection and standard for your application to build against just once. Instead of changing how you send documentation for visits into Cerner, Epic, or any other EHR, you will always structure your results and send your messages in the same format via a single HTTPS connection. Code to our engine once, and you’ll never need to install any enterprise software or build out custom interfaces, meaning not only does your scaling potential dramatically increase, but it becomes easier and more efficient to integrate as you grow. 

Connect to Redox once to have access to multiple EHRs

As you scale to new health systems, Redox learns the nuances of your application and can move faster with each subsequent project. Furthermore, when you want to work with a health system that Redox has already integrated with, the technical mapping completed at that site enables you to get your product live in a nearly turnkey way. Unlike point-to-point connections, the Redox platform promotes easier data sharing by leveraging and building upon existing infrastructure. 

Instead of having your team build and support the connections to your customer’s on-premise EHRs, we handle all connectivity and maintenance to the health system. With no VPNs, SFTP, or other nasty acronyms to worry about, you don’t have to expand or dedicate staff to becoming a network security team—it’s all handled by our fully managed services. 

One of the primary advantages of working with Redox is that our model is refreshingly efficient for health systems to implement. Unlike with point-to-point connections, there’s no need for health system IT staff to manipulate messages in the interface engine or update web service configurations, because we’ll deliver messages to them however they’d like. This cuts weeks of work and testing for health system’s IT teams. An average point-to-point interface project can take between 40-60 hours of health system IT resources, while an average Redox project requires approximately 10 hours. Additionally, Redox has proactive monitoring and alerts built into our engine, so the health system can rest easy knowing the connections they’re creating are secure.

Lastly, unlike any other integration solution, Redox’s industry-leading API can accommodate the inevitable industry and regulatory changes that will occur in the healthcare space, be it an EHR update, change of system, or adoption of a new data standard like FHIR. Our hub-and-spoke model allows us to quickly make changes on an engine level that will quickly take effect within your application’s workflow, and our SaaS model means you are always covered with long-term support and flexibility.

With more and more applications approaching health systems to integrate, having an application that requires minimal work and maintenance makes your solution lightweight and appealing. Furthermore, having Redox as an integration partner enables you to come to health systems with projects that are nearly turnkey.

Ready to Sell Integration?

We hope this guide has provided you with a strong foundational knowledge of what integration is, how to think about selling your product to a health system, and how to discuss the actual project itself.

If you want to talk about selling to health systems further (or anything else integration related), reach out to your Redox point of contact and we’d be happy to dive deeper.