Medical communities set online standards

Johns Hopkins University has joined with leading professional medical societies to create the MedBiquitous Consortium; a group dedicated to creating technology standards and software for education and collaboration in online medical communities.

Fifteen organisations representing over 400,000 physicians have already joined the Consortium. IBM, Sun Microsystems, and Rational Software will be taking a lead role in designing the Consortium’s technical architecture.

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

The Consortium will create XML (Extensible Markup Language) specifications for areas of common interest to professional medical societies. Use of XML, a Web standard, provides a consistent and common language for medical societies and other organisations, permitting them to exchange structured data over the Web.

According to a statement using a standardised computer language, such as XML, allows a wide and diverse group of individuals or organisations to ‘talk’ to each other, facilitating information gathering and online transactions.

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 resources to their membership, including personalised scientific content, online courses and examinations, ongoing mechanisms to document competency, and clinical registries that track medical outcomes and errors.

‘This initiative provides a cost-effective way for societies from around the world to develop Web technologies,’ said 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.’