Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Microsoft Health - Common User Interface

October 16, 2007 Posted by Jason Irwin No comments

As so often happens, I was sidetracked when Google-ing a specific problem in work this morning, only to find myself enamored by a new technology, unable to return to my original train of thought…unable to remember what it was I originally investigating!!

Today, it was Microsoft Health’s Common User Interface (CUI) that stole my attention (see http://www.mscui.net/Default.aspx). As my blog introduction stated, I work for a Healthcare Organization in the United States. On a daily basis we deal with the development and maintenance of an array of healthcare products. Legacy applications exist in a number of programming languages, but the .NET framework was adopted around the time of its inception and all new applications are developed in Win or Web Forms – making this CUI quite an exciting prospect. As the name suggests, the Common User Interface is UI oriented, aiming to provide design guidance and controls for healthcare applications. Its first release (CTP) was in July of this year and sample controls are downloadable from Codeplex.

What excites me about this is not that it has the potential to put me out of a job (joking of course) but that it has the potential to provide a safer and more efficient manner in which to develop healthcare-based applications. I would hate to fathom how much is spent in the US each year in developing MIS front-ends. Medical standards exist, so it seems a little strange that in many areas standards for the Information Systems that support them do not.

I had the chance to play with the CUI a little, and while it is not very mature (remember it is a CTP) it has quite a lot of promise. Developed with the British National Health Service (NHS) in mind, it appears address some moderately complex UI tasks such as medication display, and also some fairly minor (but nevertheless important) ones – Address Labels, Gender Labels, Date Input validation controls, etc. More exciting is that the technology supports Web Forms (AJAX supported) and Win Forms – though the former appears to be the primary development platform (for the NHS). The website allows interaction with a number of sample web controls and the toolkit can be downloaded from a provided Codeplex link. If you are in the healthcare business I recommend you look out for this as a firmer development strategy is formulated and toolkit additions are released. The future looks bright!