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Health Care Goes Online

WebPutty app creates workflow between doctors, pharmacies

Rx-Connect, a wholly owned subsidiary of $11.5 billion health-care provider PacifiCare Health Systems Inc., is testing a Microsoft.Net-based application framework from WebPutty Inc. to manage connections to several thousand doctors' offices.

Rx-Connect, in Costa Mesa, Calif., provides doctors with the technology to access patient information through a wireless handheld device running Windows CE. The technology arm of PacifiCare takes prescription fulfillment data from a pharmacy benefits manager, marries the information to a patient's prescription history and other data, then delivers it to the handheld. Any information traveling across the Internet is encrypted to protect patients' privacy rights.

Through this device, a doctor can type in a prescription and either print it out at the office or send it through Rx-Connect to a pharmacy benefits manager, who receives the information either by fax or electronic data interchange. The pharmacy then can mail the drugs to the patient. The latter scenario is useful for patients who refill prescriptions on a regular basis.

WebPutty sells the WebPutty Application Flexibility Server, which creates an application framework for browser-based applications, using XML metadata to serve customizable business objects, workflow logic, data structures, and interactive pages that conform to n-tier architecture practices. The product isn't so much a development tool as it is the plumbing infrastructure needed to create scalable distributed applications. Flexibility Server Version 4, which ships Dec. 10, has been tightly integrated with the Microsoft .Net platform. Pricing depends on deployment size.

Rx-Connect is testing WebPutty as a tool for managing the numerous Simple Object Access Protocol interfaces it has built in Microsoft's VisualStudio.Net to move data formatted in XML between applications running in doctors' offices, pharmacy benefits providers, and its hosted software. All Rx-Connect applications run on Windows 2000.

If an Rx-Connect developer changes an application, WebPutty is expected to pinpoint the changes needed in any other application, saving time in determining the full impact of software modifications in the network. However, WebPutty doesn't let the developer propagate custom-compiled code changes. Whether Rx-Connect uses WebPutty following the test, company president David Grant says, will depend on its ability to reduce implementation costs.

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