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InterSystems VAR, LSS, Developing Bespoke Application

Eton, UK- August 21, 2000 – E-DBMS specialists, InterSystems, today announced that one of its leading VARs, Logical Support Services (LSS) has built a new state-of-the-art thin browser interface for three of the UK’s leading Cancer Registries. Thames Cancer Registry , Trent Cancer Registry Northern Ireland Cancer Registry are all using Caché WebLink, for a new graphical interface for the existing database application.

This new interface will improve both the usability and appearance of the system. Browser technology was chosen over a “traditional” Windows GUI because of the easy deployment it offers: no client installation – bar a web browser – is required. In addition to being usable over an intranet there is also the option to make it available via a secure extranet, e.g. to NHS Trusts and other medical institutions who could input case notes and pathology reports online rather than providing electronic or paper media. Interfacing with Microsoft Office or other Windows based applications is easy and will extend the functionality of the application as well as generally opening up the data for further processing or presentation.

Thames Cancer Registry (TCR) is one of 11 specialist cancer registries in the country. Its remit covers a population of 14 million people in the South East of England. TCR’s brief is to register cancer cases, to produce information on cancer incidence, prevalence, survival and treatment, and to carry out comparative and trends analysis. The Registry’s database of around two million tumour records, dating back to the 1960s, has tremendous epidemiological, research and educational value, contributing to both internal projects and external research for the Office for National Statistics, as well as a host of international healthcare organisations.

“The central Registry database and supporting technology are critical to the Registry’s work. Applications offering very simplistic database interaction are typical of the current web genre, but Thames Cancer Registry envisaged a truly reactive web-based application, capable of providing serious data entry functionality. This is why we chose to develop the system using Caché,” said Ravi Bhatt, {job title ?} at Logical Support Services.

TCR’s current application, in operation since 1994, is based on the previous generation of InterSystems technology. The same system is also used by two other cancer registries – Trent and Northern Ireland.

Development specialists, LSS, were selected to develop the new interface because of their proven track record with InterSystems technology. InterSystems’ WebLink was the obvious choice to bring the M/SQL application to the web. WebLink makes web pages database-aware via its active server page facility, which allows Caché code to be embedded into HTML pages.

One of the technical highlights of WebLink is the Event Broker, which allows instant field processing and validation without the need to submit an entire web page. LSS has used the Event Broker to demonstrate convincingly that web applications can be made as responsive as a Windows application hosted on a local network. This, together with the fact that WebLink creates “state-aware” connections that maintain session variables over several web pages, makes it possible to put “real”, i.e. fully reactive, applications on the web.

While some of the more eye-catching aspects of the new interface (such as a hidden side menu bar sliding in and out of the page) required the use of Javascript, the majority of the code is in Caché and, thanks to the modular nature of TCR’s underlying M/SQL application, it was possible to reuse most of the existing code. This helped to achieve two of the key objectives of the project, namely to leave the database structure untouched and to replicate the existing functionality very closely.

With this approach, TCR will be able to implement the new browser interface gradually, converting the most frequently used functions first while continuing to use the terminal-based application for lesser-used functions such as system maintenance. In short the application has now been opened up to the parallel world of the web without compromising any of the positive features of the existing system. This provides tremendous added functionality for all three cancer registries for research, education, data entry purposes, and furthering the understanding of cancer throughout the United Kingdom.

About InterSystems

Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, InterSystems Corporation (www.intersystems.com) is the leading provider of high-performance database systems for Web applications, with over three million users worldwide. InterSystems’ flagship product, Caché, is a post-relational database with a multidimensional data and application server offering ultra-fast objects and SQL, plus massive scalability. Caché features breakthrough rapid development technology for building objects and object applications.

Trademark Notes:  Caché is a trademark of InterSystems Corporation.  Other trademarks belong to their respective owners.

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