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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

What is the MedBiquitous Consortium?

The MedBiquitous Consortium is an international group of professional medical and healthcare associations, universities, commercial, and governmental organizations that develops and promotes technology standards for the health professions that advance lifelong learning, continuous improvement, and better patient outcomes. MedBiquitous also provides a forum to exchange ideas about innovative uses of Web technologies for healthcare education and competence assessment.

What is the scope of development for MedBiquitous?

MedBiquitous focuses on developing technology standards for healthcare education, competence assessment, and quality improvement. MedBiquitous seeks to work with other standards developers whose work is complementary. 

What do you get for joining?

For the cost of membership, your organization gets: 1) the opportunity to help shape technology standards for healthcare education, competence assessment, and quality improvement 2) the opportunity to participate in pilot projects deploying the standards, and 3) the opportunity to attend MedBiquitous meetings to discuss the latest thinking regarding technology-enabled health professions education and competence assessment. All MedBiquitous standards are based on XML and Web services.

What is XML?

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language, a Web standard that makes it easier to exchange structured data over the Internet. For example, when you see John Doe, MD, pediatrics, you probably know that pediatrics is a medical specialty and that John Doe is a doctor's name. Computers can't interpret that information without some help. XML tags put information in context for computers. A XML member listing for Dr. Doe might look like this:

<Member>
  <Name>
    <n:GivenName>John</n:GivenName>
    <n:FamilyName>Doe</n:FamilyName>
    <n:Degree>M.D.</n:Degree>
  </Name>
  <OccupationInfo>
    <Specialty>Pediatrics</Specialty>
  </OccupationInfo>
</Member>

This information lets the computer system know that John Doe, MD is a pediatrician. But the computer system can only interpret this information if it understands the standard used to encode the information.

What are Web services?

Just as XML serves as a lingua franca for data, Web services serves as a lingua franca for applications. Web services allows disparate applications and machines to connect with one another through the Internet. These connected applications and machines are able to share information and work together as if they were parts of a single system. As a result, organizations can streamline interactions with partner organizations and save money. And users can find the content and services they seek in one place instead of jumping from website to website. For example, Amazon.com offers Web services that allow other organizations to integrate book searching and listing functionality directly into their existing websites. Instead of going to the Amazon.com website, users can stay on their favorite site to search for and purchase books through Amazon.

What are the benefits of creating XML and Web services standards?

XML and Web services standards make it easier to find information and conduct online transactions. In the airline industry, for example, there are standards for travel information that allow computer systems to exchange data with one another. These standards in turn enabled the development of software tools that allow Internet users to search several airlines for flights meeting their travel criteria.

In addition, standards can save programming and administrative time and effort, thereby saving money. Instead of building new applications from scratch, organizations can weave together standards-based components to create an integrated solution efficiently. Providing automated ways for systems to work together dramatically reduces the time and costs associated with importing new information into existing systems.

XML and Web services standards also provide the opportunity for organizations to work together in new and innovative ways.

Why do professional medicine and healthcare education need technology standards?

The health professions are undergoing a number of changes. Quality improvement and education have started to merge. Competencies are changing education and training. In addition, changes to how clinicians maintain their certification necessitate enhanced communications between specialty boards and educators. Realizing these changes across the many educators, certifying boards, and practice environments affected will be impossible without technology standards to bridge the gaps between these groups. Standards are essential to track clinical education and training, measure its efficacy, integrate education and improvement resources with systems at the point of care, deploy online courses in different environments, and link education and performance data to core competencies and curricula.

For example, MedBiquitous standards will enable Dr. Doe's specialty board to communicate with his specialty society and track which of his maintenance of certification requirements he has completed. MedBiquitous standards will also enable his hospital to deploy virtual patients and online compliance training created by a sister institution and communicate the effectiveness of that training to partner organizations. In addition, MedBiquitous standards for healthcare education will help Dr. Doe find the right educational resource to answer his clinical questions - right from his clinical support system.

MedBiquitous standards will also help schools track their curriculum, resources, and learner data against competency frameworks. Standards make it possible for the learner to use this data after the program is complete – allowing the learner to get a complete picture of their progression in competence across their career. Programs can know what tasks a learner has been entrusted to do without direct supervision, facilitating career transitions and allowing learners to start training at the appropriate level.

Who is using these standards?

Several organizations have implemented MedBiquitous standards to help them achieve their goals. See our list of implementers to see which organizations are implementers.

Do I have to be a member to use the standards?

No. MedBiquitous standards are made available under a public license, so anyone can implement the standards without cost.

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If I use the standards, do I have to share my information?

No. Putting your content or data in an XML format does not expose it any way or imply that you intend to share that content with others. But if you do have a need to move data between systems, MedBiquitous XML standards provide a consistent format for the data, and our Web services standards provide a consistent interface for the transaction. 

How does MedBiquitous sustain itself?

Like other standards developers, MedBiquitous is supported largely by membership fees. Non-profits pay $3,000 per year, while corporations pay a set fee based on their size (see Corporate Membership for details). These membership fees support the creation of XML standards. In addition, MedBiquitous receives funding from accelerated standards development projects.

Are the big societies and industry members going to take control of the Consortium?

No. MedBiquitous is designed to give all members a voice in the standards development process. Within working groups, each non-profit, government, or industry member is allowed one vote. All materially affected parties, including non-members, can participate the development of ANSI standards through our standards committee. In addition, the Board of Directors is structured to ensure cross-sector representation and includes a predominance of non-profit leaders in education. MedBiquitous encourages industry participation since their embrace of the developed standards is essential. If industry partners embrace the MedBiquitous standards, it is possible for educators and industry partners to create software tools that work together and further their common goals.

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Is MedBiquitous accredited?

Yes. MedBiquitous is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a standards developer for information technology standards for healthcare education, professional competence assessment, scientific publications, and online communities for healthcare professionals. ANSI promotes and facilitates voluntary consensus standards and is the official US representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Can my organization participate in MedBiquitous?

We welcome new participants! You can apply for membership in the consortium, or apply to participate in the Standards Committee.