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On Location: MedicAlert

As you stand at the front of MedicAlert headquarters in Turlock, Calif., it seems an unlikely place to find bleeding-edge technology. The lobby of the nonprofit organization features photos of the company's founders from 1953 and medical ID bracelets that have been in circulation for decades. Its "wall of stars" includes such celebrity endorsers as the two protagonists of the 1970s TV hit CHiPs and a marginal NFL quarterback who last saw action in 1976. Top executives still come to work in jacket and tie.

In the back of the building, however, a revolution is quietly taking place. In their 1980s-vintage cubicles, a group of developers is creating Web services applications that would make many Fortune 500 software groups jealous. IT engineers have constructed an SOA (service-oriented architecture) environment capable of supporting multiorganizational interfaces that most industries are still only dreaming of. We've covered Web services pioneers before, but few companies have attempted an SOA architecture that could interface with multiple partner applications.


Doing Web services for specific apps is different from building an SOA architecture that can support multiple Web services. These SOA services will completely alter the company's 53-year-old business model--and maybe even change the way the medical industry handles patient records.

In a nutshell, MedicAlert is transforming itself from an organization that has specialized in medical ID bracelets for five decades into an organization that could lead the charge in storing and maintaining personal medical information. Using its huge repository of customer-managed data on health and treatment history, MedicAlert is developing services that will let consumers collect and maintain their own patient profiles, rather than trying to navigate the maze of records systems maintained by doctors, hospitals and insurance companies.

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