ATLANTA, Feb. 24, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. and Microsoft Healthcare Users Group (MS-HUG) today announced that messaging components developed by the MS-HUG ActiveX® for Healthcare Committee (AHC) have enabled a variety of health-care organizations to achieve interoperability between disparate health-care information systems. AHC’s work has resulted in the development of commercial software applications and the first commercial middleware application based on ActiveX messaging components that enable plug-and-play interoperability. ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components are based on Microsoft’s component object model (COM) technology and provide a low-cost, fast and easy way to integrate multiple applications.
Partners Healthcare System Inc. in Boston, Mass., has achieved interoperability between three different outpatient registration applications using integration software based on ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components. Providence Health System in Portland, Ore., is implementing a pilot project based on ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components and Microsoft architecture to give patients the ability to access their billing information from home.
“The AHC has developed ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components to support interoperability among compliant health-care applications using Microsoft’s strategic architecture,” said David Baird, chair of AHC and director of technical sales support for the InterQual product group of McKessonHBOC. “The real accomplishment of the AHC this year is the commercialization of the ActiveX for Healthcare messaging software development kit [SDK], which now provides a viable alternative in the customer segment. We’ve removed the barriers so health-care organizations such as Partners and Providence can successfully integrate a variety of software applications to reduce costs and enhance patient care.”
Partners Healthcare System has more than 2 million outpatient visits each year and needed a way to integrate three disparate outpatient registration systems. Each time a patient was registered for a visit, registration and payer data were generated through one of three registration systems. Because these systems were not integrated, there was no way to provide payer data to physicians easily. Physicians require this data when ordering medications to determine whether drugs are covered by the patient’s insurance plan.
“Partners Healthcare System will see a boost in developer productivity because we can now achieve plug-and-play interoperability and get information from disparate systems into one system,” said John Glaser, vice president and chief information officer for Partners Healthcare System. “ActiveX for Healthcare will have a significant financial impact on our health-care system.”
At Partners, emphasis is placed on providing key decision-support data to physicians during the ordering process. Currently, Partners’ primary care physicians and staff have to sift through manuals to determine if a payer will cover certain prescription drugs.
“For Partners, achieving integration between disparate solutions will allow the physicians to gain access to the payer information while ordering. This will have significant financial impact,” Glaser said. “By installing these interfaces, we will be able to get the patient and payer information into a repository where the ordering applications can leverage it for clinical decision support.”
“Building the interface from the first registration system to the clinical application took only five hours,” said David Lubinski, practice manager for Microsoft Consulting Services’ health-care practice. “At Partners, we were able to integrate legacy applications in hours that previously would have been more difficult to integrate. This shows that well-architected technology components and middleware based on COM and SQL Server
7.0 work better and are easier to deploy and support.”
“The health-care industry needs technology solutions that can bring together disparate legacy systems and applications to achieve interoperability to lower costs and enhance patient care,” said John D. Carpenter, worldwide health-care industry manager at Microsoft. “ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components can reduce the total cost of ownership by interfacing existing health-care information systems to new systems in the health-care industry.”
MicroScript Corp., a provider of enterprise application integration software in health care, recently developed appian, a middleware application that provides plug-and-play interoperability across a health-care enterprise. The current deployments at Providence and Partners are based on the MicroScript platform and the work of the ActiveX for Healthcare Committee.
“We saw a tremendous opportunity for bringing to market a robust, well-supported implementation of an interoperability standard,” said John W. Moriarty, president and CEO of MicroScript Corp. “Application vendors and health-care organizations are not willing to risk the success of their organization’s critical interfacing efforts on shareware. Appian solves that problem.”
In a related announcement, MicroScript today announced the commercial availability of appian, a new ActiveX for Healthcare-based component of MicroScript’s Windows NT® operating system-based Enterprise Application Integration middleware. More information on MicroScript’s announcement is available at http://www.microscript.com/ .
“This is an acknowledgment by the industry that ActiveX for Healthcare is a viable, lower-cost way to achieve interoperability,” AHC Chairman Baird said. “MicroScript has developed a commercial, off-the shelf product to take reference implementation that AHC has developed and bring it to the broader health-care marketplace.”
Last year Millbrook Corp., a member of AHC, developed the Millbrook Integration Kit (MIK) based on ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components and Health Level Seven (HL7) messaging that enables the Millbrook Paradigm practice management solution and other solutions to exchange data automatically. Millbrook has achieved integration with several computerized patient record companies in more than 15 physicians’ practices during the past year.
“Spacelabs Intesys HL7-based products are using ActiveX for Healthcare messaging objects as the foundation of all HL7 processing,” said Roy Hays, vice president of product development at Spacelabs. “St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, Minn., is the first Spacelabs site to make use of the ActiveX for Healthcare messaging objects as a result of Spacelabs’ participation in the MS-HUG ActiveX for Healthcare Committee.”
The Caremaster Data Repository provides ease of integration and interfacing through the use of the AHC components.
AHC ActiveX for Healthcare messaging components are a set of COM-based components that provide a standard interface to HL7 2.3 messages encapsulated as objects. These objects can be sent to other applications using the Microsoft DCOM protocol or other standard transport mechanisms. This technology benefits health-care technology users by providing a low-cost, easy-to-implement solution to connect applications from a variety of vendors – a major challenge in today’s health-care industry. More information about HL7 messages is available at http://www.hl7.org/ .
MS-HUG formed the AHC in 1996 to implement standards and common tools to advance the use of ActiveX for Healthcare in solving interoperability problems using COM, the Microsoft component software technology that establishes a common interface for software components. The goal of this collaborative effort by MS-HUG, independent software vendors and Microsoft is to promote a standard implementation framework using Microsoft ActiveX technologies to ensure compatibility and interconnectivity between information systems.
With headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., the independent, nonprofit Microsoft Healthcare Users Group is the leading health-care industry forum for exchanging ideas, promoting learning and sharing solutions for information systems using Microsoft technologies. MS-HUG works to provide industry leadership, drive appropriate standards and develop associated requirements in support of health-care solutions. The diverse membership of MS-HUG is unified by a shared interest in implementing vendor- and user-developed software based on Microsoft technology to improve quality and efficiency in health care.
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