SMS adds wireless capabilities via AT&T platform

April 19, 2000

Internet phones employ push-pull data modelShared Medical Systems has not let Eclipsys’ recent takeover attempts slow its pursuit of marketing and product-development partnerships. Most recently

Internet phones employ push-pull data model

Shared Medical Systems has not let Eclipsys’ recent takeover attempts slow its pursuit of marketing and product-development partnerships. Most recently the company has been working with AT&T Wireless to build a wireless messaging system. The system, called HealthBand, utilizes the AT&T PocketNet wireless platform, Web-based browsers and servers from Phone.com, and Web-enabled cell phones from Mitsubishi to permit physicians and other healthcare providers to send and receive messages and other data on their cell phones via the Internet.

SMS claims to be the first healthcare vendor to use push-pull technologies on Internet-ready cell phones to send and receive medical data. The Malvern, PA-based firm chose to develop this technology for cell phones because most users are already familiar with cell phone capabilities and limitations. In addition, browser-enabled cell phones offer voice-to-voice contact as well as access to clinical messaging and other applications, according to John Hollway, e-business strategist and HealthBand product manager for SMS. The company plans to release the product, which is now in beta testing, in the second half of this year.

SMS has already begun experimenting with related devices for HealthBand that will make the system available on the Palm OS and Windows CE platforms sometime in 2001, according to Hollway. Windows CE devices have an advantage over Palm PDAs in that they do have some voice capability built in, he said; Windows CE users can speak into a microphone and save the sound as a WAV file.

SMS and AT&T are testing the first implementation of the HealthBand product in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Medford, OR. The Atlanta and Los Angeles tests are deploying HealthBand messaging using SMS’s proprietary MedSeries4.e information software, while the Medford test site is experimenting with using HealthBand in connection with non-SMS information systems. The data are divided into packets, which are encrypted and sent over AT&T’s wireless network. AT&T PocketNet uses 128-bit encryption, which exceeds the security required by the healthcare industry, according to Jan Vlcek, director of data platforms for AT&T Wireless.

In the Atlanta and Los Angeles tests that use MedSeries4.e and HealthBand, the customer can predefine rules and patient profiles that control automatic notification. When clinicians receive an alert on their HealthBand-connected cell phones, they are able to view all data regarding the alert and access all information in the entire clinical repository, just as they would be able to do on-site; they can then send a message back or simply call in.

The messaging system has the ability to store messages if clinicians are out of range and then send them later when the phone is accessible. Users can also configure the system to notify the message center if a message has not been picked up by a certain time, so that it can be forwarded. If a message is referred to or picked up by another HealthBand user, it is marked to notify the original recipient that no action is needed at the time of delivery.

At the Medford, OR test site, SMS is deploying HealthBand in conjunction with its PhysicianConnect Gateway software, which allows routing of information such as results, transcriptions, and clinical documents from the test site to hundreds of remote users and allows users to review and forward results throughout the system. However, messages must be in HL7 format to be sent through PhysicianConnect Gateway.

Costs for the system have not been finalized. Because SMS is developing this product to integrate with the AT&T PocketNet platform and is using commercial Mitsubishi cell phones, the cost of the messaging component should stay competitive, according to Hollway. AT&T offers a flat rate of $15/month for data service, and the Mitsubishi phones run around $200 each. PocketNet allows users to send unlimited amounts of data; however, the maximum transfer speed is 19.2 KB/second. AT&T launched PocketNet in 1997; it currently serves about 3000 cities.

In related SMS news, SMS joined the Application Service Provider Consortium, an advocacy group involved in setting guidelines for the ASP industry, as an executive member.

© 2000 Miller Freeman, Inc., a United News & Media company.