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Managing health Web services without 'flailing'

Providence Health System, a Seattle-based integrated delivery system provider, has entered a Web services initiative with Infravio, Redwood City, Calif., that provides a platform for the development, management and execution of Web services. Providence is using the Infravio Web Services Management System to create Profile Manager.

With 10 to 12 main computer systems across Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Southern California, Providence wanted to create a Web service that would allow health plan members, patients, primary clinics and hospitals to access a person's most updated and accurate profiles, which are a collaboration of all of the person's medical records. Typically, noted Erik Sargent, Web applications architect in Providence's Portland, Ore., office, ''If you come into a hospital, your medical record is stored in one system. If you go to a clinic, the information is stored in a completely different system.''

Because Providence's computer systems range from Oracle to SQL to ''a very old, old architecture, including one invented in 1966,'' Sargent said, it was imperative that the organization find a comprehensive offering that could manage Web services on all of its diverse platforms. It needed some sort of a management layer to provide security, so it specifically looked for vendors that could provide that. Providence considered products from Microsoft, IBM and BEA Systems, among others, but found that they 'mostly focused on 'how do I manage my own stuff,''' Sargent said.

Eventually, the organization turned to specialist Infravio, a company that provides a platform for development, management and execution of Web services. Providence is using the Infravio Web Services Management System to create Profile Manager.

Providence's Profile Manager was up and running within three weeks. In looking back on the project, Sargent said, ''It was very important -- even more important than in some other application development we've done -- to work on defining the object model and schemas right up front. If we hadn't had a beginning like we did, we would be flailing.''

About the Author

Lana Gates is a freelance writer based in Mesa, Arizona. She can be reached via e-mail at freelancewriter@gates-works.com.

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