Open Healthcare Framework

Monday, February 19, 2007

Healthcare Service Bus (HSB)

The Healthcare Service Bus (HSB) is on the road for some time now, thought of giving it some daylight. I thought about HSB when the OHF Bridge came through, and I know Don is rolling the idea too. The basics is so new, you take an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) hook it up to a bunch of Healthcare IT services and there you go, an SOA dream come true :-)

In a good RHIO we should see a flora of Healthcare applications from different vendors (big, medium, small), using different runtimes (LAMP, .NET, MUMPS), and serving different purposes (EMR, PHR, EHR, Lab Systems, etc.). The applications are loosely coupled, but in order to communicate properly they have to adhere to industry Healthcare interoperability protocols like the IHE, XDS and PIX.

The HSB comes into the picture to add value to the RHIO and enable applications to easily consume services of third party services. The OHF Bridge is a nice start, but its far from the final goal. The goal is a flexible workflow written using an industry standard like BPEL which can be easily created using a graphical tool. The creator of the workflow should have an arsenal of Healthcare services that can be assembled in numerous ways. The services should be interfaced using an easy to consume interface like SCA (which might be a Web Service). In order to allow the flexibility of composition the services should use a unified data objects like SDO. Using SDOs, SCAs, and BPEL, will also help running the same services and RHIO on different platforms, both commercial and Open Source. The idea is that a basic RHIO can leverage frameworks like Apache Tuscany and ODE, and tools like STP.

The logic of some of the basic services is already available as OHF Plugins. Services like document digital signature, XDS Source, Consumer, PIX, PDQ, ATNA, CTS (Terminology) and so on. There is still some work wrapping these services in the proper way, and that we are about to attempt doing this year (Matt Davis has some stuff in the oven).
There are many other Healthcare services that I didn't list here and that ISVs might add and find a creative way to make some business around. Services related to finance, public health, security, privacy, interoperability, labs, data analysis and mining, and so on.
Using the HSB we could add more to the Healthcare industry then we could before:
  • Technology services which are not Healthcare specific but might be very useful. For example technologies related to security, SAML assertions, data handling and so forth

  • Linkage with the none Healthcare specific software that you can find in many Healthcare enterprises like HR, inventory, finance. SAP system is a good example.
A note on the name. The full name of the HSB is actually Healthcare Enterprise Service Bus (HESB) shortened to HSB in order to be TLA complaint. Sondra Renly suggested the term Healthcare Community Service Bus (HCSB). I think its a wonderful idea!
The common use of an ESB in within an enterprise in order to integrate the business services within the enterprise.
The claim is that the HSB is the spine of a RHIO which most of the time is meant to serve a community and not a single enterprise. This is a community oriented thought that is more appropriate in the Healthcare vertical.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

HL7 and Eclipse OHF

Since the Healthcare Services Specification Project (HSSP) announcement I didn't see many posts about our relationships with Therefore I was happy to stumble upon David Falwell's blog
On a positive note, I did email about the availability of the open source eclipse plug-ins that are being developed for HL7v3. I received a nice email back from Richard Kavanagh himself (the development manager) indicating that they can be found on the Eclipse OHF site. I continue to watch the OHF and IHE projects with great interest.

For those who watch us, soon we'll have a release. Just hold it a bit longer...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Open Source Health Care Summit at

Last week I had the pleasure to talk at the Open Source Health Care Summit which was part of SCALE 2007. I did the talk together with Matt Excell from Possibility Forge who integrated the OHF Bridge into openEMR.
The presentation is available at the SCALE web page.
Slide 9 in the presentation is a bit mysterious. In this slide I asked the audience what is common with all the ~70 companies other then the known fact that they are somehow involved with healthcare IT. The answer of course is that all of them took part in the 2007 IHE Connectathon.

The conference held about 60 people, and the day started with an interesting talk of Scott Shreeve about Value Driven Healthcare. He talked about values, what he thinks is "Health 2.0" and how open source fits into this. The image on the right is taken from his presentation (Copyright © 2007 by Crossover Consulting. Distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike 2.5 License).

One of the presentation was about Mirth. Gerald Bortis described Mirth as the "Swiss army knife" HL7 integration engine. He also showed an impressive demo, and concluded with their plans for the future. The thing that caught my ear was IHE PDQ profile. I think its a great idea since Mirth is already about HL7 messaging. I hope it will open a path for collaboration between the projects (i.e. integration with the OHF IHE Client Plugins). In any case, I look forward to see them at the 2008 Connectathon.

Getting things done at the Connectathon, NHIN, and HIMSS

Here is a short numbers driven post to estimate performance.

IHE Connectathon at Chicago (Jan 07)isch
9 vendors used OHF
The average number of tests OHF users passed was higher than the number passed by others who didn't use OHF. For example, OHF users like MedQuist, MedCommons, and Practice Partner each passed about 30 tests.
Some of the vendors using OHF passed a landmark number of tests including Possibility Forge(OpenEMR) which passed about 50 tests and the CapMed team which passed ***107*** tests (a new Connectathon Record).

IHE Connectathon at Berlin (April 07)
Europe is new to the OHF interoperability team. We hope to grow there and have more European users and committers. In the Berlin Connectathon 2007 we will continue our support for openEMR (Possibility Forge) who are clearly on their way to go international. We are also happy to support Health@NET who (through OHF) choose IHE to do interoperability.

Nationwide Healthcare Information Netowork (Jan 07)
OHF also supported four applications in the NHIN prototype including CapMed, openEMR, and Duke University.

HIMSS (March 07)
OHF will support eight vendors at the HIMSS Interoperability showcase.
If you'll visit HIMSS, please come see OHF in action.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Nation wide Healthcare Information Network (NHIN) and OHF

The Nation wide Healthcare Information Network (NHIN) prototype demos which where presented at Washington DC two weeks ago marked an important milestone to OHF. One of the perticipents of the Connectathon was using a fully standard interoperability system using the IHE XDS, ATNA, and PIX profiles. This system was marked by few independent groups as the best system in the demo.
The important part of the story is that four of the applications which participated in this NHIN used the OHF bridge to exchange health care information (documents and patient IDs). These systems came from Possibility Forge (OpenEMR), CapMed, IBM, and Duke University. These systems used PHP and .NET platform, which make them consume OHF services using teh bridge. In teh future we hope to see more RCP based applications using the OHF plugins as is.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Visit us at the EclipseCon

EclipseCon 2007

We are going to have three talks at EclipseCon 2007, and a face to face meeting of the OHF community.
Looking forward to see you all :-)