Halo Connect

From 0 to 4000: Bundling Halo Link with Bp Premier

As of Bp Premier’s July Data Update, Halo Link is now bundled with Bp Premier. This means turning on an integration is now as simple as the click of a button.

As of Bp Premier’s July Data Update, Halo Connect’s local agent is now bundled with Bp Premier. This means no more fussing with integration installers — for practices running Halo Link, and for integrators using Halo Cloud, turning on an integration in a practice can now be as simple as the click of a button.

Halo Connect’s core goal is to make it easier for integrators to access PMS data and easier for practices to use the integrations they need. One of the biggest hurdles for integrators and practices has been complications and delays due to the local database agents required for most integrations. These local agents had to be installed on the practice server — and many practices are running up to a dozen individual local agents for all the integrations they need. Prerequisites, compatibility issues, installation coordination, support and maintenance, and updates… It was painful and costly for everyone involved.

We set out to solve this by creating a universal local agent. Halo Link connects practice servers running an on-premise PMS to our Halo Cloud APIs and allows integrators to connect to a practice without needing to install and maintain their own local database agent.

One year ago, Halo Connect was just a proof of concept. Three weeks ago, Halo Link was installed in almost 900 practices. Today, thanks to Halo Link being bundled with Bp Premier, that number is 4000 and counting.



The lead-up

Bundling our Halo Link installer with the Bp Premier installer sounds easy — but both Halo Connect and Bp Software wanted to make sure we did this right. When discussions turned to requirements and prerequisites in early 2023, a couple of things were flagged very quickly: security and quality assurance.

Improved security

Halo Connect underwent an independent security review in late 2022. Higher priority recommendations had already been implemented, but after discussions and an additional security review by Bp in early 2023, several more security improvements were flagged as prerequisites for bundling.

These security improvements included encrypted subscription keys and obfuscation of Halo Link’s source code, and were released in June 2023 along with several bug fixes and other improvements. And there are still more security improvements coming — this time aimed at integrators, rather than practices.

Improved quality assurance processes

With such sweeping changes to Halo Link and the massive increase in the number of practices it would be installed in, we also wanted to be absolutely sure we were bundling a quality product. To that end, over the months leading up to bundling going live, we also invested in standing up an entirely new automated testing system, complete with a fleet of virtual machines running a suite of automated tests on several different versions of Windows. And yes, the tests did catch a couple of bugs, as did Bp’s own testing of the installer bundle, which were fixed for the bundled version.

The big day

The July Data Update for Bp Premier went live on Monday July 3, 2023. At 9:43am we hit exactly 1000 practices with Halo Link installed.

There was a lot of careful monitoring of our analytics over the next couple of days. In the first few hours, we detected an issue with a few sites failing to connect to Web PubSub due to hitting an Azure usage limit. After attempting to restart the connections remotely, we fixed the issue by re-releasing the same Halo Link version to all sites with an updated version number. This “update” caused all sites to reconnect to Web PubSub — and was our largest release to date, the update successfully rolling out to more than 1500 practices automatically.

Within 24 hours of bundling more than 2000 new practices had successfully installed Halo Link, tripling our reach. By Friday July 7, less than week after bundling, we passed 3500 practices and, while new installs have slowed down, we have now exceeded 4000 practices across Australia.

We continue to work with the remaining Bp practices to meet minimum system requirements and apply the July DU.

The benefits

Rolling out Halo Link to 4000 practices is an achievement we’re very proud of. But it’s also only the beginning. To truly improve integration management for practices, we’re working with over a dozen integrators — both existing and new Bp Software partners — to get their integrations working with Halo Cloud.

Once an integration is available via Halo Connect, the setup process for practices will become much simpler. Practices will no longer have to deal with installing, updating, and maintaining local agents for those integrations. Just sign up with the third-party integrator and enable the integration in Bp Premier and voila — you’re ready to go.


Image from the Bp Premier knowledge base: https://kb.bpsoftware.net/bppremier/Orchid/Integrations/DatabaseIntegration/ApproveThirdPartyIntegration.htm

The future

Even though this rollout went pretty smoothly, there are still some areas where we can definitely improve.

Integrators on Staging faced an issue with the July Data Update where Halo Link installations on their development machines switched to the production environment and were unable to start a session as a result (an intentional security feature). We have a plan for mitigating this which we’ll be rolling out in coming releases.

We’re also very aware of just how many practices now have Halo Link installed, and how careful we need to be with releases. To that end, we’re continuing to broaden our automated tests and we’re working on implementing release rings, in order to give us more control over the rollout of future releases.

With Halo Link so widely available, we’re continuing to work with Bp Software and our customers to broaden the number of API endpoints and simplify PMS integrations with our growing pool of practices.

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