XDocs to InfoPath

Microsoft has changed the name of XDocs. InfoWorld has a story on it, and how it can make a difference to the healthcare industry.

InfoPath aims to make it easy for end-users to edit forms using XML (Extensible Markup Language). The forms can be used to extract and send business data to and from business applications running on back-end systems, and can help cut down on paperwork and reduce errors associated with manual data entry, according to Microsoft.

An InfoPath form tailored to the needs of a doctor might include fields with a patient’s name, address, and medical history, he said. When the doctor writes the patient’s name in the form, other fields can be populated automatically using information pulled from back-end systems and delivered to the application in XML, said Bobby Moore of Microsoft. The idea is to cut down on the time it takes to fill out such forms and reduce the likelihood of error when information is entered manually.

The doctor can save the form in the XML format automatically, and clicking a button sends the information back out to medical records systems, where it updates those systems and makes the information available for use across the organization.

Moore said InfoPath has several features that should make it attractive to businesses. Among them, users will be able to add additional fields to forms at they are needed. For example, a tax form might display fields for information about four family members. If a person filling out the form has more than four family members they’ll be able to click on a button to repeat the fields.

“The developer can designate sections that can be repeated or optional. Then the end-user says, ‘OK, I want to grow this form by adding these sections,’ ” and clicks on a button to do that, he said.

More ambitiously, developers could develop forms that can extract information made available by other businesses in the form of Web services. For example, a doctor could query an application from an insurance company to see whether a patient is covered for use of a particular drug, Moore said.

Forms are a key element of documents and workflow. That is where these initiatives need to be seen by us in the context of our enterprise software work. Just as we have developed a Event Builder (which can take events from an ODBC-complaint database to RSS/blog), we need to do something similar with forms – right from auto-generation of forms through templates, entry of data, validation od the data entry, and then flowing the data to other applications.


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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.