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.

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