Mirth Connect 3.6.1 vs CONNECT 5.x

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Mirth Connect 3.6.1 vs CONNECT 5.x

edsalvador
This post was updated on .
It was stated that Mirth Connect can be used to assist with connectivity to the eHealth Exchange. So, is Mirth Connect 3.6.1 meant to work in conjunction with FHA CONNECT 5.x or to be a replacement for FHA CONNECT 5.x?
Also, can or should Mirth 3.6.1 be used to create Adapters for CONNECT 5.x?
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Re: Mirth Connect 3.6.1 vs CONNECT 5.x

Sovann Huynh
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This is a question for Mirth CONNECT
Sovann
CONNECT Product Team Member
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Re: Mirth Connect 3.6.1 vs CONNECT 5.x

johnhd_at_zen
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by edsalvador
I actually have relevant experience with both products and several considerations of this issue by virtue of some recent work we've been doing. That said, I'll do my best to share my perspective, but I don't have direct knowledge of the roadmap or plans of either vendor.

Your question about Mirth Connect working in conjunction with FHA CONNECT is a good one. The short answer is: no, not directly.

They're also not meant to replace each-other, they're two different products from two different vendors that are essentially competing (or, to phrase it in a friendly way, providing more options to the marketplace. :) )

The first thing I want to express: Mirth Connect is a Nextgen-owned and maintained "general-purpose" integration engine product. It has an open source version as well as commercial licensing through nextgen. (It's currently being rebranded to "Nextgen Connect" I believe)

https://www.nextgen.com/products-and-services/integration-engine

It is distinct from "CONNECT", or the "CONNECT gateway", which is a separate open source product put out by the various federal agencies (and to which this forum is dedicated).

https://www.healthit.gov/topic/health-it-initiatives/what-connect

Despite the similar name, there's no direct relationship between these products. Although to make matters a little more confusing, Mirth (or, more correctly, Nextgen) does have installations of the CONNECT gateway out in the wild that they use, although these generally don't interact with Mirth Connect in any direct way. (There are some exceptions but I'll avoid that tangent to keep on-message.)


Mirth Connect & Ehealth Exchange

From what I've seen, the open source Mirth Connect itself does not have much native capabilities to generate the requisite XCPD, XCA DQ, or XCA DR messages that the EhealthExchange uses. It also does not natively support SSL for transport security or generate/interpret SAML for message security. That said, these functions are actually available as premium plugins under license from Nextgen (who now owns Mirth) in pieces- the SSL Manager for SSL and (very recently), the Interoperability Connector Suite for the messaging and SAML components.

I *believe* but don't know for certain that the SSL Manager is available for all their tiers of commercial licensing, and the (new) Interoperability manager facilitates the actual generation and interpretation of the relevant SOAP messages as well as their SAML/security headers.

They announced the Interoperability Connector Suite as a commercial extension in their 3.6.0 release notes here:

http://www.mirthcorp.com/community/wiki/display/mirth/Mirth+Connect+3.6.0+-+What%27s+New#MirthConnect3.6.0-What'sNew-InteroperabilityConnectorSuite

One important detail I like to add to these kinds of discussions is that, since Mirth Connect (and FHA CONNECT too for that matter) is open source, there are often ways of working around or developing your own functionality to match your needs (i.e. handle SSL connectivity, generate/validate SAML, use template SOAP messages, etc.). The question is whether you have the time, budget, and know-how in-house to do so.

FHA CONNECT & Ehealth Exchange

CONNECT is an open source product that is widely used in the EHEX community. It handles most of the messaging and security aspects required for Ehealth Exchange.

In order to leverage the product, you as an implementer are tasked with developing your own *Adapters* in order to "Adapt" the CONNECT gateway to function meaningfully in your own environment (e.g. permit your local applications to trigger queries outbound, and/or permit the CONNECT gateway to initiate a lookup in your MPI to establish a proper patient found / not found response to an inbound XCPD)



FHA CONNECT vs. Mirth Connect

1) "Ehealth Exchange Validated"

One really important thing to note is that the CONNECT gateway is currently (September 2018) listed as a "Validated Product" by the Ehealth Exchange, where as Mirth Connect is not.

https://sequoiaproject.org/ehealth-exchange/testing-overview/ehealth-exchange-validated-products/

This isn't an inherent roadblock, but participants using a validated product are "fast-tracked" in their onboarding process to a certain extent- there are less tests and, I believe, less fees associated with onboarding.

I don't have knowledge if Nextgen has roadmapped getting their Mirth Connect extension to be a Validated product or not.

2) Adapters

Your question "can or should Mirth 3.6.1 be used to create Adapters for CONNECT" is a fairly interesting one.

Since these products are not related, Mirth Connect is not optimized to serve as adapter(s) to CONNECT. At one point in the distant past there actually was a plugin available for Mirth Connect that served as adapters to the CONNECT gateway, but I believe this has been deprecated for several years at this point.

*However*, the way the Adapters work, with the right knowhow and some elbow grease, you can create adapters in Mirth Connect for the CONNECT gateway from the ground up.

I know this because, well, my employer (Zen Healthcare IT) actually offers a range of IHE/NHIN/EHEX/CareQuality solutions, and Mirth Connect > CONNECT adapters are one of them. ;)

Finally, one disclaimer - I currently have and have had connections to both companies with commercial offerings discussed in this post.
Ask The Experts! Free 15 minute live Q&A sessions with one of Zen's Expert Integrators @ https://consultzen.com/integration-service-desk-solutions/

www.consultzen.com
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Re: Mirth Connect 3.6.1 vs CONNECT 5.x

edsalvador
John,
Thanks for the detailed information.  This is very helpful.

Thanks for your help!