A lot has been written about the benefits if an integrated system versus 'best of breed' as some vendors like to call it. Best of Breed is really a lose term for 'we don't have other components, so we've partnered with another company'.
Integrated System does not mean 'interfaced' system. Applications may be owned and perhaps developed by the same company. But if they were developed as standalone applications, they may be connected by interfaces or bridges. Applications may not share a single database or development platform.
To an end-user, the workflow and process may appear seamless because the vendors passes data from one application to another behind the scenes automatically and the user does not have to do anything.
Systems and applications designed to and developed from ground up on a single database are considered true integrated systems.
Which is Better?
From an end user perspective, it should not matter; at least theoretically. Vendors on both sides of the fence have written about the benefits of each.
Consultants have always favored the Integrated system approach. However, they have not successfully been able to convince me from an end user perspective. From a software and database integrity point of view I agree it makes absolute sense.
Benefit of Integrated System
I was sitting with a Doctor friend at his office. His biller walked in and said, 'Doc, you just saw patient Jones and I think you under-coded. I saw the note, I believe this would be a 214 level coding.'
The doctor just opened that patient's visit note in his EMR and updated the chart.
The biller saw that the claim updated with the new code.
I suddenly realized something and asked the biller, how did you you know or see the visit note? Do you have access to the EMR system?
My friend said we have an 'integrated' system, so she can view my notes on the same screen where she creates and views the claim. She does not have to go to another 'app' or module or software. It is all in the same system and database.
Now it suddenly came together - Single database Integrated system. This is also the reason why when Doctor updated his note with the new code, the claim was immediately updated.
It took a real world example to be finally convinced of what consultants have been saying all along.