MedBiquitous Consortium to provide on-line medical communities with XML-based learning and working tools

Baltimore 22 May 2001Johns Hopkins has joined with a number of leading professional medical societies to create the MedBiquitous Consortium, a group which is dedicated to creating technology standards and software for education and collaboration in on-line medical communities. The Consortium will develop XML (Extensible Markup Language) specifications for areas of common interest to professional medical societies. IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Rational Software will be taking a major role in designing the Consortium's technical architecture.

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Use of XML, a Web standard, provides a consistent and common language for medical societies and other organisations, permitting them to more easily exchange structured data over the Web. Utilising a standardised computer language like XML, allows a wide and diverse group of individuals or organisations to "talk" to each other, which greatly facilitates information gathering and on-line transactions.

Fifteen organisations representing over 400.000 physicians have already joined the Consortium, including the Council of Medical Speciality Societies, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, the American Academy of Paediatrics, the American College of Gastro-enterology, the American College of Radiology, the American Heart Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Cardio-Thoracic Surgery Network (CTSNet), the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, the International Council of Ophthalmology, and the Society for Vascular Surgery. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and UNITAR, a virtual university in Malaysia, have joined the Consortium as university members.

"Professional societies are the recognised leaders of knowledge within each speciality", stated Edward D. Miller, M.D., CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine and Dean of its faculty. "MedBiquitous technologies will allow societies to extend their leadership to the Internet arena and thus meet the challenges of this innovative era."

The Consortium also creates for its membership a suite of software tools based on the XML standards. The tools and standards combined will allow societies to provide a wealth of resources to their membership, including personalised scientific content, on-line courses and examinations, ongoing mechanisms to document competency, and clinical registries which track medical outcomes and errors.

"The XML and Web services specifications developed and used by the Consortium will enable health care professionals to benefit from dynamic connections and exchange of information through the Internet", stated Robert S. Suter, Ph.D., the IBM director of e-business Standards Strategy. "Using open standards-based middleware in order to facilitate better communication and collaboration among associations will benefit the entire medical community, and we are pleased to contribute our infrastructure expertise toward the launch of this initiative."

"MedBiquitous Consortium technologies reflect Sun Microsystems' practice of supporting open industry standards, such as Java and XML, and supports our vision of developing and deploying Web services as outlined in Sun's Open Net Environment (ONE) architecture", commented Todd Freter, programme manager of the XML Technology Center for Sun.

"Rational Software has been a pioneer in the development of software standards such as the Unified Modelling Language", stated Kirk Fuller, vice president of worldwide strategic relationships at Rational. "We are very pleased to be part of the MedBiquitous effort and we believe that using software standards will help move the project forward more quickly and with higher quality."

"This initiative provides a cost-effective way for societies from around the world to develop Web technologies", commented Professor Paul Sergeant, M.D., the Consortium's European executive director. "And what's really exciting is the opportunity to collaborate with other speciality organisations to create shared resources, like CTSNet, that give physicians access to comprehensive information."

CTSNet is an Internet portal developed by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery, and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery. As such, CTSNet offers the latest medical information to a global community of cardio-thoracic surgeons, patients, and health care professionals.

Peter S. Greene, M.D., Associate Dean for Emerging Technologies at Johns Hopkins Medicine, was instrumental in building the CTSNet community and will be serving as the founding executive director of the MedBiquitous Consortium. Carey J. Kriz, special assistant to the Dean and CEO of John Hopkins Medicine and a long-time veteran of the computer industry, will be the Consortium's managing director of commerce and industry initiatives. Valerie Fudge will serve as the Consortium's director of communications.

Two other organisations have been put in place to support the MedBiquitous Consortium. The MedBiquitous Laboratory is an academic laboratory created to develop the next generation of Internet tools for professional medical societies. MedBiquitous Services Inc. assists medical societies in organising global speciality networks, and in deploying and operating advanced on-line communities which are fully compatible with standards and specifications created by the MedBiquitous Consortium.


Leslie Versweyveld

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