LAS VEGAS, Sept. 15, 1997 — The Microsoft® Healthcare Users Group (MS-HUG) has joined Microsoft Corp., health-care organizations and independent software vendors to announce the public rollout of the ActiveX
for Healthcare messaging components. ActiveX for Healthcare is an open initiative that helps application developers break down connectivity and interoperability problems by using Microsoft component software technology. For purchasers of health-care information systems, this results in lower cost and easier deployment of systems in a multivendor environment.
The ActiveX for Healthcare Software Development Kit (SDK) is available free on CD-ROM at the MS-HUG Windows® on Healthcare III conference in Las Vegas, Sept. 14-18, as well as on the Internet at (http://www.mshug.org/activex/) (connect-time charges may apply).
The ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components are standard health-care messages, such as Health Level Seven (HL7) 2.3, encapsulated into objects. These objects can be sent to other applications compatible with ActiveX technologies using the Microsoft DCOM protocol. A flexible architecture gives users a migration path that makes it easier to connect existing systems and applications from different vendors. For example, vendors can use a custom
(non-DCOM) protocol such as TCP/IP sockets or serial connections to easily integrate legacy systems with new technology.
“We’re delivering on the promise we made three years ago to overcome the cross-system communication challenges that currently exist in the health-care industry,” said John Carpenter, worldwide health-care industry manager for Microsoft. “Right now, the only way to positively ensure system compatibility is to purchase from the same vendor. But the industry should be allowed to make choices and select ‘best of breed’ products from a multitude of vendors. ActiveX for Healthcare creates that freedom.”
A Team Effort From the Beginning
The ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components were developed through a team effort consisting of the Microsoft Healthcare Users Group, independent software vendors, Microsoft and the Andover Working Group for Open Healthcare Interoperability (AWG). The independent, nonprofit MS-HUG, through its ActiveX for Healthcare Committee (AHC), has shepherded the creation of these freely licensed components and implementation guidelines. The implementation is based on work done by the Special Interest Group on Object Brokering Technologies (SIGOBT) of Health Level Seven and specifies the HL7 message profiles and ActiveX-based version of the messaging application programming interface (API) developed by the AWG. The ActiveX for Healthcare Committee has also announced an ActiveX for Healthcare certification program to ensure that developers using ActiveX technologies meet certain compatibility criteria.
“The 67 members of the ActiveX for Healthcare Committee have worked hard to produce a set of tools that will enable health-care system vendors and users to take a major step toward Plug and Play interoperability,” said Les Westberg, chairman of the MS-HUG ActiveX for Healthcare Committee. “This is a long-sought goal in our industry. When we’re able to fully integrate desktops, servers, networks and legacy systems in the health-care industry, we’ll not only solve one of the industry’s most pressing problems, we’ll open the door to a more efficient, less costly operating environment that will ultimately benefit patients and caregivers alike.”
In addition to steering the ActiveX for Healthcare standard, the ActiveX for Healthcare Committee also works closely with HL7 and AWG to ensure compatibility across implementations.
“The Andover Working Group has committed to working with the ActiveX for Healthcare Committee on this fundamental step toward a unified vision of health-care interoperability,” explained Nancy Hinckley, business chair of the AWG, which was started in 1996 by Hewlett-Packard Co. “ActiveX technology is a key element of the Enterprise Communicator Framework (ECF), the Andover Group’s architecture for building interoperable systems. Our partnership with the ActiveX for Healthcare Committee ensures that developers will be able to easily move between AHC and ECF implementations.”
The Microsoft Healthcare Users Group was formed in 1995 to encourage interaction among its members on the direction and application of new computing solutions in the health-care arena. The group seeks to improve communications between the various areas of health-care computing by breaking through the boundaries of medicine, technology, payors, academia and industry. MS-HUG is an independent, not-for-profit membership organization.
Health Level Seven is an accredited standards development organization, which has published two ANSI-approved American National Standards for the transmission of clinical and administrative data. The use of the HL7-based specification by AHC and AWG demonstrates the leading role that the HL7 organization is taking in the clinical standards domain.
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