Dynamic Healthcare embraces XML with strategic partnership

September 20, 2000

Dynamic Healthcare embraces XML with strategic partnershipRobust platform to manage clinical dataThe advent of Web-based data management has turned the business plans of many vendors on their heads. It has also forced a number of

Dynamic Healthcare embraces XML with strategic partnership

Robust platform to manage clinical data

The advent of Web-based data management has turned the business plans of many vendors on their heads. It has also forced a number of information systems and services companies to shift their attention to the burning question of how best to use the high-bandwidth communication capabilities inherent in the Internet as a virtual network.

One such vendor is Dynamic Healthcare Technologies. With the formation of its Internet Solutions division this summer, Dynamic is continuing its transformation from a clinical information systems provider into an e-health company—a move foreshadowed by its corporate restructuring last October (PNN 10/99). The Lake Mary, FL-based firm's Internet strategy includes the implementation of an ASP offering called CoMed (HNN 8/9/00) and the formation of strategic partnerships to complement its clinical systems.

The first of these partnerships focuses on Dynamic's commitment to one of the emerging Internet development environments: XML (extensible markup language). Like Microsoft, Oracle, Sun, and a host of other software vendors, Dynamic became aware of the potential for XML to improve data transactions over the Internet as XML became a more widely used language for Web design than HTML (hypertext markup language). This led the firm to form an alliance with Cytura, a developer of open architecture Web portals and a member of the Microsoft Healthcare Users Group. The two companies joined forces last month to develop an XML-based platform for the exchange of clinical data, including results, reports, and images. Cytura is providing the underlying technology, and Dynamic is providing a distribution channel. The firms also plan to codevelop clinical applications.

"We understand the business of diagnostic workflow for the provider community," said Chris Assif, president of Dynamic's Internet Solutions group. "Some time ago, we decided to seek partners that share the common vision of connecting physicians to diagnostic information. Cytura complements our expertise and provides us with the XML infrastructure to provide a more highly personalized and more functional Web experience for the clinician."

Early adoption of XML, a budding Internet standard endorsed by the large operating systems vendors, ensures that Dynamic is staying on the cutting edge of application development, Assif said. XML and HTML are both based on SGML (standard general markup language), but HTML has been considered the de facto standard for Web design. Many developers have been frustrated by the lack of agreement on standards for HTML coding, however. Different browsers support disparate features; for example, some HTML tags common to Microsoft's Internet Explorer are not recognized by Netscape Communicator. In addition, the Internet developer community has been slow to adopt HTML 4 due to lack of broad-based support for this version of HTML.

The advantage of XML over HTML is that it enables users to manipulate data on the desktop and specify its presentation without requiring the browser to send multiple requests to the server, according to Assif. With HTML, any requests to reformat the data are sent to the server, which requires additional processing time.

"XML is more aware of the data, rather that just having a flat presentation," Assif said. "XML attempts to bring both data presentation and the rules by which data are handled into one transmission. It provides infrastructure to recognize relationships across data points."

Components of Dynamic's XML-based platform will be in the next release of CoMed for Results, which is scheduled for availability in October/November. The first capabilities integrated into CoMed will be in content management; the firms will then begin to migrate clinical results transactions over to XML. Dynamic plans to have its entire CoMed suite on the XML platform by the end of the year.

"We're migrating our products to XML in lockstep with our customers' conversions," said Assif. "With this new platform, we may serve a lot of different organizations in a partner or customer relationship."

The move to XML will also open partnership opportunities in emerging technologies such as wireless. Because wireless networks currently have lower bandwidth capability than wired networks, the ability to manipulate data more effectively on a computing desktop will enable a whole new generation of information access devices, according to Assif. In fact, Dynamic believes that XML will drive adoption of personal digital assistants in healthcare.

Dynamic is actively seeking relationships that will enable its XML technology to be embedded in other companies' products and vice versa, Assif said. Dynamic plans to leverage its expertise and market share in pathology and radiology in seeking such partnerships and is also looking for strategic relationships in related technologies, including imaging, voice, data acquisition, dictation/transcription, and digitizers.