When the health trusts merged a year ago, they found they had two sets of clinical data stored in incompatible legacy systems. In addition, the trust is running a Citrix thin client environment and has been having trouble finding companies that cater for this market.
Then the trust started working with Microscript, owned by New Era of Networks (Neon). Neon is part of the Microsoft BizTalk committee which works to promote the adoption of XML as a standard for integration.
North Tees and Hartlepool bought an integration tool from Neon to allow it to build a single interface for both its radiology and its patient administration systems.
The trust reports that using XML has simplified its integration problems by providing a common information protocol that standardises the way data is described.
"Previously, users had to go into all four systems separately, using different log-ins and passwords for each, which was a real turn off for clinicians," explains John Fitzsimmons, head of health information at the trust. "Now, people don't realise that they're pulling data from four disparate systems."
The trust is using Netscape Navigator as a browser front end for its 500 users. So far, only one interface has been built. But Fitzsimmons has more plans for the integration tool.
"The idea is to build a 'ward workstation' where users log in once, enter the patient's NHS number and can access any information from admissions to pathology results," he says.