Sunday, May 17, 2009

Since 1991, I have been involved with the development and marketing of tools for creating reliable digital documents for exchange in high end printing environments - PDF/X. PDF/X is popular for high quality, reliable exchange of newspapers, magazines, books, catalogs or any document that might be viewed or printed.

Recently I have become involved with a project for medical document exchange. Issues that revolve around EHR (Electronic Heath Record) are similar in that a reliable exchange normally requires metadata be exchanged, and often this exchange requires that the PDF exchange might require that PDF - or metadata - be in a form that is machine 'readable'.

Like PDF/X - PDF Healthcare files might need to be 'preflighted' - or automatically searched and verified that it is in the required condition before it is actually accepted - much more than checksum.

Examples of a PDF/X "plus" metadata are exchanges for book marketing materials (like ONIX) or exchanges between advertisers and magazine and newspaper publishers (AdSml)

Like JDF exchanges, where the associated JDF may come before, with, or after a PDF/x file is transmitted - one important part is JMF - Job Messaging Format - The language used to communicate between JDF agents and controllers.

Unlike PDF/X and JDF exchanges in publishing environments - With PDF Healthcare - there are additional privacy issues - anyone that works at a hospital and knows that if a medical record is sent to the wrong party, this is a serious HIPPA incident which may expose the party to lawsuits and sizable fines.

Most medical data today is transmitted via FAX - while many think this might be more secure than an email, well - not so much. Lets say we have a healthcare professional who is trying to fax some medical data.

When someone sends a FAX - they can see that it was sent from their end BUT...

1. They do not have a method to verify if the party that it was sent to was the right party (just imagine how many times you have dialed the wrong number)

2. They do not have a method to know if the fax actually printed (The FAX receiving end might out of paper, jam, low toner, etc...)

3. They do not know if anyone actually read it (no simple confirmation, like we have in email, we KNOW it was at least OPENED)

If we have a JDF / JMF like FAX system, the above could be possible of course.

In the world of secure PDF exchange, many developers use things like Adobe® LiveCycle® Rights Management ES - or products and technologies "like" that

Unlike PDF/X - where Adobe and print vertical vendors worked together to add things to the PDF specification - PDF Healthcare is NOT PDF/H

- PDF Heathcare is simply a best practices guide - here is a link to that;

If you are interested in viewing examples;

Here is a great blog that talks to many of the issues that revolve about digital data exchange in a medical environment

I think these particular post related to scanning paper and managing documents were very interesting.

I have experience with scanning paper documents to and then performing data-scrapes, as well as building workflows to convert a room full of documents into a searchable PDF archive.

In the case of the US Dept of State, they could not install any applications and needed a method that would work with Adobe Acrobat Reader. In this case, they wanted to search across a specific set of PDF files searching for specific key words - to speed things up (there were thousands of PDF files) this required a creation of an index - and then, teach them how to use Adobe Acrobat Readers Advanced Search options to search through an index to find the specific PDF files.

Stay tuned for more on this !

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