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Using Web Services to Support Legacy Clinical ... - City University

Using Web Services to Support Legacy Clinical ... - City University

The remaining of the

The remaining of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 outlines some related work. Section 3describes the problem and objectives of our work. Section 4 presents our approach for using web services inclinical systems. Section 5 illustrates our work through examples. Section 6 discusses the implementation ofour prototype. Finally, section 7 summarizes our experience and suggests directions for future work.2. Related WorkAchieving interoperability between distributed systems has been a long-standing objective of academicresearch and industrial practice. Many approaches have been proposed to support interoperability ofdistributed database systems. These approaches can be classified into two main groups [23].The first group of these approaches was characterised by the use of a global data schema on the top of theschemas specifying the structures of existing databases. This schema was in line with the idea of "tightintegration" and its main goal was to hide differences in the structure of the underlying databases, and givethe users and/or applications a single structure and set of operations for accessing them. Examples of systemsthat advocated this approach were DATAPLEX [4], DDTS [6], and MULTIBASE [19]. However, it soonbecame clear that the construction of a global schema was not a simple task, did not guarantee the autonomyof the individual databases, and made the evolution of the overall system difficult.To overcome these problems a second group of approaches emerged. These approaches were characterisedby the "partial" or "no integration" of the underlying databases. Examples of this approach include thefederated architecture [11], five-level schema architecture [18], multidatabase architecture [14], the Jupitersystem [10], and [23]. Other approaches proposed the use of mediators and wrappers, which encapsulate thedifferent data sources by hiding or exposing their internal interfaces (DIOM [15], DISCO [21], Garlic [17],and TSIMMIS [7]).The above approaches certainly demonstrated possibilities for achieving data interoperability but failed toachieve standardization in the representation of the data to be exchanged. The use of proprietary data formatsremained one of the main obstacles for interoperability.Over the last couple of years, web services technology has emerged as a more standardized and flexibleway to support remote data access and application functionality. The components underpinning web servicestechnology are: (1) the eXtensible Mark Up Language (XML) [3] that provides a uniform and widelyacceptable framework for structuring and representing data, (2) the SOAP protocol for exchanging messagesacross autonomous applications [2], (3) the web service description language (WSDL [5]) that provides ameans of specifying how to remotely invoke web services, and (4) the UDDI (Universal Description,Discovery and Integration) protocol [22] that provides a basis for building registries for identifying services.On the top of these components, numerous vendors have been developing environments for constructing anddeploying web services (e.g. Microsoft’s .Net [16], Sun’s WSDP [20]).However, it has to be appreciated that this technology is still under development and immature.Furthermore, there are a number of open issues that may affect the eventual ability of this technology inachieving reliable application interoperability including: (1) support for the discovery of services, (2) supportfor assembling services dynamically and at run-time, (3) support for monitoring service functionality, and (4)support for business-process driven assembly of web services. What however seems promising about theeffort around this new technology is the formulation of bodies with wide industrial representation which arelooking into the development of standardized solutions to the above problems.3. Problem and ObjectivesOne of the main tasks of the e-Government Interoperability Framework (e-GIF) is to adopt the Internetand World Wide Web specifications for all government systems, including the NHS. The first e-GIFstandards were proposed in September 2000, and since then the use of XML [3] and related technology as acore standard for data interoperability in medical information systems has been extensible discussed. These

discussions include ways of converting and adapting existing medical applications to comply with the e–government strategy.An example of this medical application that need to be converted and adapted to comply with thegovernment strategy and requirements is the Laboratory Information Systems (LIMS), presented in theOxford Radcliffe Hospital. This system records and provides access to patient records and test results byretrieving data from the laboratory machines and displaying information about existing records. The systemcontains a MSM (Micronetics Standard MUMPS) database. External access to the data in this database andpublication of its information on the Internet is enabled through a component called Web Link. Thiscomponent resides on a web server and responds to Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts. It also invokesa MSM routine on the database. Connections to this database can be made through TCP/IP, TELNET orTCP/IP with TELNET authentication.Although the existing setting allows access to the laboratory data through the Internet, the current solutionis considered to be ad hoc. The objective of the project reported in this paper was to investigate the use of webservices technology to support access to LIMS and analyse the benefits and drawbacks of adapting suchtechnology.4. Our ApproachFigure 1 presents the overall architecture of our approach. In this architecture, web services are used as anintermediary layer between the database itself and the client or application client. Our approach contains fourmain components. These components are:Œ the database,Œ the server,Œ the server client, andŒ the client.HTMLRequestClientXSLTHTMLResponseHTTPrequest/responseXMLSOAP RPCServer Client ServerWSDLMSM APIGlobalsRoutinesFigure 1: Overall architecture of the approach

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