Thursday, September 23, 2004


"CCOW - Clinical Context Object Workgroup - is a vendor independent standard developed by the HL7 organization to allow clinical applications to share information at the point of care. CCOW enables the visual integration of disparate healthcare applications. "

Basically a "context management", software integration application. Specifically, CCOW defines a protocol for securely linking applications so that they tune to the same context. CCOW works for both client-server and web-based applications.

This means that when a clinician signs onto one application within a CCOW environment, and selects a patient, that same sign-on is simultaneously executed on all other applications within the same environment, and the same patient is selected in all the applications, saving clinician time and improving efficiency.


  • Greater flexibility of choice for health providers when purchasing healthcare applications because CCOW offers widespread interoperability between software from different vendors
  • Rapid, unified access for clinicians to patient data when they need it
    CCOW's single sign-on management capabilities improve user efficiency (fewer time-consuming sign-ons to applications)
  • Context oriented workflow - clinical users can find and compare patient information they need quickly and easily, supporting better clinical decision-making
  • Leverages existing investment - By CCOW-enabling existing IT resources, health providers can realize the benefits of a single sign-on, patient centric information system without major re-investment in new technologies.

CCOW specifies that a Context Manager component is responsible for maintaining the context. Applications are Context Participants that synchronize by querying the context manager to determine the current context and when they wish to update the context. CCOW also supports Mapping Agents, which map equivalent identifiers when the context is updated so that applications can interoperate without sharing the same identification information for patients or users.

CCOW provides two options for communication between components - a Web (HTTP) mapping, and an ActiveX mapping. This allows interoperation to occur even between applications employing different technologies.

I'd like to thank authors of the HL7 web site and other web sites involved with CCOW, for the above material.

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