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ReportingEngines Powers Customized, Real-Time Reports for MercuryMD

  • July 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: William Lawson, CTO of MercuryMD.

BACKGROUND: MercuryMD is a private, healthcare-focused software company that provides hospitals with mobile technology solutions to improve clinical workflow and operational efficiencies. As technology continues to reshape the way hospitals deliver care, doctors, nurses and other clinicians need access to patient information from any location and at any time. Although many hospitals have integrated their various information systems, delivering clinically relevant patient information to healthcare professionals - when, where and how it is needed - still poses a major challenge. By equipping clinicians with faster and better access to patient data, mobile technologies such as MercuryMD's MData Enterprise System enable hospitals to meet this data accessibility challenge while enhancing patient care, decreasing medical errors and shortening length of stay.

PLATFORMS: IBM WebSphere, IntelliJ IDEA and Oracle.

PROBLEM SOLVED: The MercuryMD Corporate Portal provides a robust framework for managing internal processes related to externally focused client services as well as internally managed project management, development and quality assurance efforts. The most immediate deliverable for the corporate portal was to replace a homegrown infrastructure for monitoring and managing a growing number of installations of the MData Enterprise System, our flagship software solution sold to hospitals, which delivers real-time clinical information to handheld devices. An important component of the portal is the ability to provide customized, real-time reporting that can be delivered to internal and external users in a variety of formats in a cost-effective fashion.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: There are two primary uses for ReportingEngines Formula One e.Report Engine within our corporate portal. Report Generator is a servlet-based application that runs in WebSphere Application Server. The purpose is to generate HTML, CSV and PDF documents. Report UI is a portlet running in WebSphere Portal that acts as a front end to the Report Generator. It gathers the users' requests (report ID, format and report input parameters) and then uses the Report Generator to create the report before displaying the results to the portal user. Formula One e.Report Engine allows our Java developers to author reports without utilizing the on-staff DBAs. Further, the reports are delivered to end users using only a browser and without requiring any client-side software.

STRENGTHS: As the architect that evaluated and recommended the Formula One e.Report Engine, I am very pleased with the product. It installed easily and performed like the documents stated. It contained good documentation and JAVA examples of how to utilize the product and also solved the business problem of creating HTML, XML, CSV and PDF reports while easily integrating into WebSphere Portal. It also allowed the use of a portlet as the front-end user interface.

WEAKNESSES: The one limitation we found was that the product did not include automatic integration with all areas of our WebSphere platform. However, the product's architecture was open enough to allow us to easily complete the integration ourselves.

SELECTION CRITERIA: From a functionality perspective, it allowed us to create reports through a portlet user interface; integrated into WebSphere Application Server; and has built-in formats including HTML, XML, CSV and PDF. From a cost perspective, the application is used by a small staff and did not justify similar products at a higher cost. We also evaluated QlikTech, MicroStrategy, WebFOCUS from Information Builders, Crystal Reports and Synaptris from Intelliview before choosing the Formula One e.Report Engine.

DELIVERABLES: Formula One e.Report Engine creates HTML, XML, CSV and PDF reports and also functions as the report user interface.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The vendor supported their product quite well in all phases of implementation. The best part of working with the vendor is that they passed the "hit by a bus" test - that is, we were able to develop and deploy using their technology using only their documentation and examples. It was simple to install and was integrated into our WebSphere Portal architecture. The only issue we ran into was in moving our environment from Windows to Linux - we needed to lean on their support to identify some subtle rpm dependencies for fonts. This issue was easily resolved with their assistance.

DOCUMENTATION: Documentation is above average for a technical toolkit - too often products that are designed for technical professionals sacrifice documentation; but in this case, the documentation and examples were sufficient to install and learn the product.

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