Healthy Web apps

Hartford Hospital creates a secure portal to give physicians critical access to patient information

In 2002, Hartford Hospital’s IT team was in a quandary. The hospital’s 800 affiliated physicians were clamoring for remote access to key data such as patient information and clinical results hosted on the hospital’s grab bag of legacy systems. Dial-up access was too slow, and the hospital’s VPN system was too cumbersome, requiring users to remember a separate password for each app.

Enter Web services integration tools and a secure, single sign-on portal. Using a series of Novell products, the hospital created several Web apps from its mainframe-based clinical data that gave physicians secure, remote access to 18 different apps via the Internet. One new accounting app saved $80,000 by streamlining claims processing.

“Everything we deploy is a Web service,” says project co-leader John Destefano, describing one new application that provides epidemiologists with real-time data for monitoring in-house infection rates and gauging the effectiveness of various antibiotics. Previously tracked manually and via spreadsheets, the data now flows from the hospital’s laboratory partner through an interface engine into a database that can be accessed via the portal.

“Physician satisfaction just shot up exponentially when we released the project,” says co-leader Richard Kubica, who notes that simplifying the Web interface is an ongoing challenge.