IBM DB2 9 The Value of DB2 9 in the Healthcare Industry Background Today, in the era of information technology, healthcare providers from various countries are relying on information and information systems. Every country must urgently speed up the way information is gathered in order to raise the medical management level and the service efficiency. Currently many hospitals have already successfully digitized their medical documents. And with the aid of computers are able to streamline the workflow and allow users to access information on demand. But the information that the healthcare industry needs to process is extremely complex. Let's take a look at a patient's medical record. It contains the patient's name, sex, and other basic information. It also contains the complex patient's history. Including doctors visits, referrals to specialists, prescriptions, and hospitalizations. All these generate entirely different information that needs to be stored. This has been an extreme challenge for software vendors to find a method to effectively organize these medical records while still maintaining flexibility. On the information management side, the healthcare industry must urgently adopt an outstanding information management product in order to effectively promote worker efficiency, share medical achievements, and improve the quality of medical services. Take this medical record as an example. XML is able to maintain the hierarchical nature of a medical record. XML has the advantage of self-description, schema flexibility, and extensibility that most conforms to the healthcare industry's demand for diverse information. IBM DB2 9 uses the XML/SQL hybrid engine. Not only does it retain the advantages of a traditional relational database. It also has a pureXML engine that accelerates and advances the way healthcare industries process patient information. IBM DB2 9 supports the international standard query language XQuery, which posses the capability to rapidly retrieve information and enormously reduces system development efforts. All these reasons make it an ideal database to process medical data. IBM continuously drives the advancement of healthcare information standardization. This provides a helping hand in managing healthcare information and allows IBM DB2 9 to become the key to information management. Electronic Medical Record Let us follow a medical record's journey. An ordinary medical record contains enormous amounts of information. The record is built upon a complex structure, with nested relations and many different patterns. Even within the same hospital, each department has its own templates for its medical records. Between different hospitals the difference between templates is even greater. Because XML is self-descriptive, flexible, and extensible, it is considered the most suitable method to store medical record information. By mapping medical records using XML, different data points can be placed on different nodes. The XML data tree continues to gradually grow with additional inputs. Even when there is a change in the template, XML just requires a small adjustment to adapt to the change in the medical record content. XML’s Storage and Query Although XML is ideal for supporting medical records, the traditional database technology is unable to support the flexibility and extendibility required for XML. In order for a relation database to support XML, it must forcibly transform the XML data into two dimensions, by shredding and mapping. The cost of this is extremely high and data loses its semantic information. Once the medical record template has changed, the original mapping done in the relational database is unable to conform to these changes and requires alteration, thus losing the flexibility of XML. Alternatively, IBM DB2 9 uses a new technology--pureXML--to store XML in its native hierarchical form without any additional modifications. Breaking the need to store XML as BLOB or CLOB, and preserving XML data in its original form, allows for repeated analysis and access. It also eliminates the need to shred the XML data into a two-dimensional relational table. IBM DB2 9 is the ideal database for supporting insertion, extraction, and querying XML data types without additional processing, which brings superior advantages to processing XML data. DB2 enhances the ability to inquire and retrieve electronic medical records through XQuery. For example, when a doctor needs to retrieve a patient's information from the database, based on the symptoms such as a fever and other conditions the patient is displaying. He or she uses these conditions to compose an XPath, which is then transformed into an XQuery to find the possible cause of the illness. Through the IBM DB2 9's highly-effective XML query capabilities, he can quickly and efficiently search for the corresponding data. Forms for the Healthcare Industry Now, let us examine the problems the hospital information system will encounter when it manages the patient medical records and the financial calculations using the two- dimensional relational database. The two-dimensional tables are staggered with nested complex reporting forms and are associated with multiple templates. At the provincial level, the number of templates can reach into the several hundreds. Not only is the data associated with a form, it also has several intriguing connectional relations. All these reasons cause the relational table design to be costly, unable to be modified, and incompatible with other systems. Unconsciously, we are surrounded by different kinds of data forms that become more and more complex daily. And if there is a small adjustment of the templates, the software development faces the danger of reconstructing the whole system. From the storage point-of-view, the data that is produced by the healthcare industry contains a variety of arbitrary data types. In order to support the data in a two- dimensional table, you must cover all possible attributes, and create a massive amount of data values. Sparse data is prevalent within the table, thus wasting a tremendous amount of valuable storage space. Once IBM DB2 9 is introduced, there is a completely different effect. The XML language provides flexibility and extensibility, which is suited for these complex data forms. Developers can easily transform reports into XML objects and store them in IBM DB2 9's database. If the report needs a slight adjustment, the XML object can easily deal with the modifications without the need for additional development. With a system that is highly-flexible, the healthcare industry can entrust and reuse the information stored in its database. Joined together with a commonly used two- dimensional relational database, IBM DB2 9 will certainly create an even more powerful system to manage healthcare information. IBM DB2 9 In addition to fully supporting XML data, IBM DB2 9 has also perfectly integrated relational and XML databases. DB2's SQL/XML hybrid engine is so flexible that it does not lose any performance or functionality during concurrent operations of traditional and XML data. With a hybrid engine, users are able to grasp the functionalities of insertions, revisions, locating, and searching within both the relational and XML data, thus allowing it to adapt to extremely complex data applications. Its flexibility also grants developers the ability to develop rich elastic products, ensuring the system's long-term investment. As for the healthcare industry, IBM DB2 9 will help the healthcare industry accumulate rich and valuable medical data, promote information-exchange among different healthcare sections, and build a fully-developed information tree for the healthcare industry.
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