Guest Editors' Introduction: eHealth and Services Computing in Healthcare

Article excerpt

Healthcare is often perceived to lag behind other industry sectors in its uptake and adoption of new technology. eHealth is one such technology which includes the areas of Health Informatics, Electronic Medical/Patient Records, Clinical Decision Support, Telehealth. The main purpose of eHealth is to provide better use of information in health care settings, to improve the quality of patient care and the efficiency of clinical processes. Many situations exist where the use of eCommerce principles would be appropriate to establish new eHealth solutions, and these warrant extensive research investigation. Services Computing has been described as a "cross-discipline that covers the science and technology of bridging the gap between Business Services and IT Services" (Site 1). This role is supported by Web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA), business consulting methodology and utilities, business process modelling, transformation and integration. The goal of Services Computing is to enable IT services and computing technology to perform business services more efficiently and effectively. Opportunities abound for the unique aspects of healthcare to drive fundamental computing and IT research together with leading applied research within the healthcare domain that could potentially be reapplied to areas outside of healthcare.

This special issue contains articles addressing eHealth and Services Computing in Healthcare from several different perspectives. The first three articles set the scene for research within this domain by focusing on business process modelling within healthcare and e-health, otherwise known as patient flow or patient journey modelling. While many healthcare organisations are utilising Lean Thinking (Site 2) based approaches, these research articles show that improvements can be made to these initiatives through approaches that better support the nuances of healthcare when compared to the retail and manufacturing sectors for example.

The first paper entitled "An Evaluation Framework for Business Process Modelling Languages in Healthcare" coauthored by Amir Afrasiabi Rad, Morad Benyoucef and Craig E. Kuziemsky sets the scene by introducing the healthcare domain, the business processes within it; healthcare's modeling requirements, and challenges of healthcare business process modeling. With this in mind they present the difficulties of modeling complex healthcare processes in a service based environment. They present a set of healthcare modeling requirements and propose an evaluation framework for process modeling languages based on these requirements. This is demonstrated through the evaluation of the suitability of two major process based service composition languages supporting services computing, namely BPEL and WS-CDL.

The second paper entitled "Using Visual Analytics to Improve Hospital Scheduling and Patient Flow" co-authored by Janna Anneke Fitzgerald and Ann Dadich presents an innovative approach to extend the lean thinking approach premised on visual analytics. They demonstrate that this approach can identify areas for improvement without having to make changes to the physical environment through a visual communication mechanism with staff. …