How NEHEN Hangs Together

NEHEN schematic
Click here for PDF schematic of NEHEN’s network

The founders of the New England Healthcare EDI Network (NEHEN) quickly realized that the prospect of overhauling legacy systems would present a considerable barrier to their charter: creating a system for exchanging medical data that complied with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

The easiest route, they concluded, would be to fold in software that acted as a translation layer between each health care provider’s or payer’s internal system and HIPAA-compliant data along with a private peer-to-peer network that guaranteed security.

In the strategy they devised, each NEHEN member integrates a server running NEHEN-created software with its back-end systems. The software takes requests, formats them according to the requisite electronic data interchange (EDI) specifications and passes them over dedicated frame-relay connections to other members.

It also acts as a gateway, receiving EDI transmissions, decoding them and submitting them to the appropriate legacy machine.

For smaller providers, such as independent doctors’ offices, NEHEN created a Web-based module called NEHEN Lite. These offices connect via a dedicated link to the hospital with which it’s affiliated; the transactions created and managed by the NEHEN Lite client are treated by the larger provider’s NEHEN gateway software as though they originated from that provider’s legacy system.