WO2002019222A1 - Health-related information distribution system - Google Patents

Health-related information distribution system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2002019222A1
WO2002019222A1 PCT/US2001/027117 US0127117W WO0219222A1 WO 2002019222 A1 WO2002019222 A1 WO 2002019222A1 US 0127117 W US0127117 W US 0127117W WO 0219222 A1 WO0219222 A1 WO 0219222A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
information
users
private
user
health
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2001/027117
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Steven Buchanan
Charles Leing
Kathleen J. O'neill
Daniel Underberger
Pierre Laporte
Original Assignee
Clinnet Solutions Llc
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US22987200P priority Critical
Priority to US60/229,872 priority
Priority to US23661400P priority
Priority to US60/236,614 priority
Application filed by Clinnet Solutions Llc filed Critical Clinnet Solutions Llc
Publication of WO2002019222A1 publication Critical patent/WO2002019222A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F19/00Digital computing or data processing equipment or methods, specially adapted for specific applications
    • G06F19/30Medical informatics, i.e. computer-based analysis or dissemination of patient or disease data
    • G06F19/32Medical data management, e.g. systems or protocols for archival or communication of medical images, computerised patient records or computerised general medical references
    • G06F19/324Management of patient independent data, e.g. medical references in digital format
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F19/00Digital computing or data processing equipment or methods, specially adapted for specific applications
    • G06F19/30Medical informatics, i.e. computer-based analysis or dissemination of patient or disease data
    • G06F19/34Computer-assisted medical diagnosis or treatment, e.g. computerised prescription or delivery of medication or diets, computerised local control of medical devices, medical expert systems or telemedicine
    • G06F19/3418Telemedicine, e.g. remote diagnosis, remote control of instruments or remote monitoring of patient carried devices

Abstract

A system for providing public and private health-related information over an open network. The system includes a server enabled to communicate with client devices over the network. At least one database, accessible by the server, stores public health-related information, such as health related news stories, intended for public dissemination. The database also stores definitions of multiple groups of users, and private health-related information, such as organization specific news bulletins or formularies, intended for dissemination only to the members of user groups. The server provides public health-related information to any client device, but the private health-related information is provided only to members of a group to which that private information pertains. Users, especially health-care users, are incentivized to use the system since it provides both public news stories of general interest to the user plus organization specific information. This makes the system more attractive to sponsors who wish to place on-line advertisements either to all users or to specific user groups.

Description

HEALTH-RELATED INFORMATION DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and

Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from (1) United States provisional application serial no. 60/229,872, entitled Multiple Extranet Hosting System, filed August 31, 2000, and from

(2) United States provisional application serial no. 60/236,614, entitled Multiple Extranet

Hosting System, filed September 29, 2000. The contents of both provisional applications are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention is directed to a computer-based system and method for the electronic distribution of information and/or news (sometimes referred to herein simply as

"information") relating to healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and others, and more particularly, for the distribution of such information, which includes public and private information, via the

Internet. In a specific application, the invention relates to the healthcare industry. The information and news delivered in accordance with the invention are of particular interest to physicians and other health-care professionals.

Cuπent technology allows information to be distributed electronically and cost effectively to a wide range of people locally and at locations around the world via computer networks. A computer network may be public or private, or global, wide area or local, examples of which are the Internet, extranets, WAN and LAN.

An information provider may want to provide information to users on a controlled basis. However, the cost of doing so for a particular provider may not be justified on a business basis either because the number of anticipated users is too small or the amount of information to be disseminated is not, by itself, compelling enough, or for other reasons. From a user's standpoint, access to certain information, typically that available from a particular provider, would be very desirable provided the cost was reasonable.

Existing technology allows an information provider to restrict distribution of information over the Internet to authorized users only, for example, by requiring user authentication (e.g., with a user identification code and/or password). In addition, existing technology allows information provided to an identified and authenticated user to be customized to include only information that that user is entitled to receive. However, the business-related problems identified above which some information providers and others face in establishing or connecting to a network remain despite the cuπent state of technology.

The foregoing applies to many industries and industry segments. However, while the invention is applicable to many industries and/or industry segments, it has particular application to the healthcare industry. Therefore, description herein proceeds in connection with the health-care industry with the understanding that the description also applies to other industries and industry segments as appropriate.

As Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) extend their coverage, other healthcare forces are trying to grab or regain control of the market. The challengers are hospitals and their vertically integrated delivery networks (IDNs), employer groups and physician group practices. In order to influence the market to serve their interests each must develop more effective physician networking strategies.

Health systems, hospitals and IDNs, in order to realize operational efficiencies, have begun the movement towards medical management while trying to improve the quality of patient care. They rely upon a direct relationship with their physicians for income generation and to help effectively manage cost and control overall healthcare expenditures. These entities have important implications for the marketing efforts of the pharmaceutical industry. The ability to influence large groups, such as an IDN, improves the potential to move market share. Approximately 30% of all health systems use a committee to make and enforce formulary and purchasing decisions. Pharmaceutical companies have increased their sales and marketing efforts as a result of new product launches and managed care. Corresponding demand for new outreach services will continue to grow as pharmaceutical companies seek to improve effectiveness with newer marketing channels.

Physicians are inundated by an overwhelming amount of business coπespondence and medical information. Additionally, consumer education and medical advancements have necessitated that physicians keep abreast of the latest medical news. In an effort to keep current with new developments and events occurring in the medical community and within their specialty area, a growing number of physicians are going online.

Online information gathering can be a very time consuming process. Traditional delivery of professional medical news does not categorize stories by specialty. General news services on the Internet are not interested in professional medical news because: (a) there are not enough physicians in the US to generate sufficient usage for their business model, and (b) they are not cuπently able to support news for closed user groups. U.S. Patent Nos. 5,819,271, 5,802,518, 5,864,871 and 5,940,843, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference, disclose corporate information delivery systems which provide research reports and corporate information to users who are authorized to receive such information on an item-by-item basis. In U.S. Patent No. 5,940,843, distribution of information (e.g., a research report) is dependent upon a relationship between the information provider and the subject matter of the information (e.g., a corporation which is the subject of the research report).

The following U.S. patents relate to access control to networks and/or data: 5,513,126; 5,864,683; 5,920,861; and 6,064,656. The disclosure of each of these patents is also incorporated herein by reference.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In a broad sense, the invention disclosed herein relates to a system which hosts multiple outsourced, extranets for multiple groups. The system provides information private to one or more groups and public information. The private information of a group is made available only to users authorized by that group (e.g., a "closed user group"), and the public information is made available to all interested users. Both public and private information is categorized into one or more potentially overlapping categories and may be individually sifted for retrieval by each user. Sponsorships may be associated with the public and/or private information and is provided to users along with the associated information.

The invention also provides a method for establishing a system for collecting and disseminating private and non-private information over a network for example, a system as described above. A computer system is provided which stores information and provides information in accordance with a procedure. A plurality of information providers is enabled to supply (a) information of a private nature relating to the respective information provider to the computer system and (b) authorizing information to the computer system by which the computer system can control dissemination of the private information. The information providers and/or third parties are enabled to supply non-private information to the computer system. The procedure by which computers are determined by the computer system to be authorized to receive private information from the computer system is defined, while computers can receive non-private information without determining if such computers are authorized.

The invention further provides a method for delivering targeted sponsorship and/or advertising information. A computer system is provided which stores information and provides information in accordance with a procedure. Information of a private nature relating to the respective information provider is provided to the computer system and authorizing information is provided to the computer system by which the computer system can control dissemination of the private information. Non-private information to sponsorship advertising information and/or is provided to the computer system. The sponsorship and/or advertising information may be associated with information providers and/or private information. The sponsorship and/or advertising information is supplied along with private information from the computer system over the network to recipients if a respective recipient has qualified according to a qualification procedure.

The invention provides, among other things, a computerized method and system for providing private and non-private information to members of a plurality of groups over a network, each group having private information intended only for members of that group. Each group provides private information to a data storage device, to which non-private information is also provided. Each group also provides authorizing information to the data storage for each member of the respective group. The private information of a group is provided from the data storage device over the network to an intended recipient only if the intended recipient is authorized to receive the private information based at least partially on the authorizing information stored in the storage device, and the non-private information is provided over the network to a requesting recipient.

The invention also provides a business method in which a system as described above is established under control of a first party, e.g., a system operator or a system organizer.

The first party may directly or through a second party solicit groups and information providers to join the system. Where a second party is used, it may be compensated for obtaining qualified groups and/or information providers. The first party may directly or through a second party solicit sponsors or advertisers who will compensate the first party for sponsor or advertising messages displayed by the first party along with other information. Groups and information providers may be allowed to use the system free. As such, this provides the business justification mentioned above for joining the system. Public information sources may be compensated for information they provide to the system. In a prefeπed embodiment, a first party organizes and operates the system. The first party engages one or more second parties to solicit groups to join the system at no cost to the groups. The first party compensates the second party. The first party obtains sponsors or advertisers who compensate the first party for providing sponsorship or advertising information along with other information to group members. Alternatively, the first party may engage and compensate second parties to obtain sponsors and advertisers. The first party engages information providers to provide information to the system for compensation or for free. Alternatively, the first party may compensate a second party to engage information providers. ClinNet Solutions has originated and developed a computer system, method and business method for providing such information to the healthcare industry. (As mentioned, the system method and business method are applicable to other industries as well.) ClinNet calls its system "NewsRounds" ™.

In organizing NewsRounds, ClinNet provides a unique healthcare product that provides physicians with a new level manageability by easing the "glut" of healthcare information. NewsRounds provides a channel of communication for those seeking a direct link to the physician. While it is commonly recognized that practice administrators handle the majority of e-commerce transactions in healthcare today (as opposed to physicians) there has been little focus on supplying content to practice administrators. NewsRounds can also provide valuable information to practice administrators, which is particularly important for e- commerce. ClinNet has developed relationships with various hospitals, managed care organizations, and physician organizations. These organizations want to deliver news and notices to their affiliated physicians on a site that also delivers quality news of interest to physicians in general. NewsRounds, an Internet-based information service, is the first individually personalized, daily, electronic healthcare newspaper. Acting as an "information aggregator," it provides physicians and health care professionals with a concise and efficient method of access to global medical and specialty news while and information incorporating local, personalized, business communication. NewsRounds differs in that it is focused on delivering practical day-to-day personalized news for each physician rather than generalized, albeit specialty-specific, medical journal articles. ClinNet obtains (e.g., by licenses) daily medical news from reputable industry sources and provides editorial services for customer contributed communication. Each business day, medical editors categorize the news by specialty.

NewsRounds is the first healthcare Internet site that is designed to allow multiple healthcare entities to manage and securely disseminate custom tailored information (meeting minutes, schedules, formulary decisions, announcements, etc.) to their respective closed user groups.

A highly-regarded value-added feature is the addition of links to published bulletins, as appropriate. NewsRounds' physician editors will add hyperlinks to full-text of journal articles, references to drugs and medical devices, etc. in anticipation of the readers desire for additional (research) information.

As a business model, NewsRounds is a free service to the physicians. Upon log-in, a physician's personalized electronic healthcare newspaper is built "on the fly," based on their personal profile and their assigned rights to a publisher's information. ClinNet' s electronic publishing customers are generally IDNs, health systems, hospitals, hospital departments or large physician groups. Customers pay no fees for their content to be distributed to these closed user group(s). In addition, pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers will pay sponsorship for their detailing content to be presented through hyperlinks from customer specific bulletins. The system may also operate with partners who provide links to their users for accessing the systems.

Users usually access the NewsRounds service via the Internet. When a registered Internet user links to the NewsRounds site, he or she is typically presented with a personalized version of the NewsRounds home page, containing news from the category and specialty selections made when registering for the service, as well as news from each of the user's affiliated organizations.

The service's goal is twofold, to make it easy for affiliate organizations to deliver news to their affiliated physicians and to make a useful tool for professional medical information on the net. The users of this service are physicians and healthcare professionals. The service's revenue model is based on relationships with affiliated organizations and need not be advertising-based.

NewsRounds contains stories (information) of interest to healthcare professionals. The stories come from a variety of public and private sources. Some of those sources are syndicated news services such as the professional medical news feed offered by ReutersHealth Information Inc. This type of information is referred to herein as public information. Other sources include non-syndicated news services and the various healthcare- related organizations and associations that provide stories of interest to the healthcare community. In general, all registered NewsRounds users can view stories from these sources. NewsRounds also contains stories from some healthcare-related organizations and associations that choose to only allow their own members to access these stories. NewsRounds contains stories that are only of interest to, and therefore can only be accessed by certain subsets of the user community (such as stories that are only of interest to users who live in a particular community). We refer to these member organizations and subsets as closed user groups, or CUGs, and this type of information is refeπed to herein as private information.

The NewsRounds service also includes Partners, who are companies that agree to offer NewsRounds as a collaborative effort. Usually sites with users who are searching for a news component, but would like a news service. Users follow a link to NewsRounds from a partner site. Embedded in the URL is some indication of which partner they are coming from. NewsRounds records the fact that the user has come from this particular partner in the user profile. Over time, a single user may come from numerous partner sites. During the session that was initiated by a link from that partner site, that partner's logo will appear on each page as the user navigates through the site. Users that have never registered with NewsRounds will be sent through the registration process. Alternatively, unregistered users can register automatically as part of the linking process. To accomplish this, the partner site must induce the user's browser to post a registration form to NewsRounds. Also, cuπently registered users can log in as part of the linking process. To accomplish this, the partner site must induce the user's browser to post a login form to NewsRounds. Partners may also want to entitle these users to see content from one or more CUGs created for and maintained by the Partner. This can be accomplished as part of the linking process, with the user's profile being submitted to the matching engine for inclusion as a member of the one or more CUGs created and maintained by the partner. Sponsors and advertisers can be synonymous. Either may simply have their sponsorships displayed on NewsRounds pages, and/or may have advertising displayed. For example, and their logos may appear on some or all of the pages on the site. They can sponsor CUGs or Specialties or Categories, their logos can appear when the user is looking at the home page of or content from a sponsored CUG, specialty or category.

NewsRounds may include primarily stories. Logical extensions to the model may include healthcare links (by CUG, specialty, or category), CME (Continuing Medical Education) content (by CUG, specialty, or category), and Scheduling of resources (by CUG). It is envisioned that each of these could be handles as a separate tab on the navigation bar. In accordance with one aspect of the invention, pages are created dynamically for each user depending upon, at least, the entitlement of the user to stories and information provided by the inventive system and method. A profile is established for each user which determines a respective user's entitlement. Other profile information, such as interests, professional classification (e.g., medical specialty) provided to and stored by the inventive system and method may also be used to dynamically determine a page to be provided to a user.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, each time a user provides a request to the system, the system determines the user's entitlement, and responds accordingly. For example, the system may provide a page, information or a story that the user is entitled to receive even in response to a request for a page, information or a story that a user is not entitle to receive. Alternatively, the system may provide a "fake" page (discussed herein) in response to a user request for a non-entitled page, information or story. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is illustrated in the figures of the accompanying drawings which are meant to be exemplary and not limiting, in which like references are intended to refer to like or coπesponding parts, and in which:

Fig. 1 is a flow chart illustrating the personalization process for determining authorized users of the system and for creating a profile of the user's areas of interest in a computer system implementing the invention;

Fig. 2 is a flow chart illustrating the story load process for loading and making stories available for display in the computer system;

Figs. 3A and 3B are a flow chart illustrating the matching process for establishing registered users of the computer system;

Fig. 4 is a schematic diagram of a content server in the computer system;

Fig. 5 is a schematic diagram of a matching server in the computer system; and

Fig. 6 - 17are web pages provided to user computers by the computer system. Figs. 18-21 are forms associated with NewsRounds site administration, enabling editors to categorize and edit stories.

Figs. 22-25 are structures of database tables. Figs. 26 and 27 are schematics of NewsRounds sites. Fig. 28 is a schematic of the NewsRounds Matching Server.

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The components that comprise the site and service are stored in a central repository that includes at least one application service and at least one database service. These two services can be combined on a single server or can be distributed among more than one server. As shown in Fig. 4, the database service includes a relational database management system component that is used for a majority of the user services, and a text- based index component that is used to respond to user keyword searches of the repository. Web-based administration pages allow editors and administrators to maintain among other components, the content and components that make up the site and service. Tabs

On most of the pages in NewsRounds, between the headers at the top and the news stories, are a series of html-based tabs. There are two types of tabs, generic tabs available to all users, and CUG tabs, of which there are two types: global and local. Global CUG tabs show up on all pages if the user is entitled to see content from the CUG who has requested the global CUG tab. Local CUG tabs only show up when a user is viewing content published by the CUG that requested the local CUG, or looking at that CUG's home page. Tabs are nothing more than links to other pages, either on the site or on another site. NewsRounds Access

When a browser requests a page from the NewsRounds server, the server checks the browser request to see if a NewsRounds cookie has been sent with the request. The absence of the cookie indicates that either the user a) has never visited the site or registered for the service, b) has visited the site and registered for the service but did so using a temporary (session or memory) cookie or chose to log out after using the service, or c) has visited the site and registered for the service but did so on another browser (on the same or a different computer). For the purposes of this description, we shall refer to these users as guests. The presence of the cookie indicates that the user has visited the site and registered for the service using the same client computer in the recent past (e.g., two years). For the purposes of this description, we shall refer to these users as registered users. Both guests and registered users are sent to the requested NewsRounds home page.

Most pages in NewsRounds are created dynamically when the user requests the page. Several of the elements on these pages depend upon values that are retrieved from the user's profile when the page is dynamically created. (The user profile is created and stored in a table when the user registers for NewsRounds - see Fig. 24)

At the top of each page, below a banner that includes several navigation icons and the NewsRounds logo, is a message welcoming the user to his or her "Special Edition" of NewsRounds. If the user is a registered user, the message identifies that user by name. The name used in this message is stored in and retrieved from the aforementioned user profile. If the user hasn't registered or hasn't logged in, the message identifies the user as 'Visitor' until the user either logs in or registers.

A typical NewsRounds page includes either an individual story or one to several topically grouped lists of recent story headlines. The stories or story headlines that appear on these pages are retrieved from the story repository table (see Fig. 25) and include both CUG News and Editorial Healthcare News. Which CUG News stories and story headlines a user is allowed to see and access is contingent upon the user's CUG entitlements. These CUG entitlements are stored in and retrieved from the aforementioned user profile.

CUG News includes stories submitted by CUGs and stories that are of interest to certain predefined regional subsets of the registered user population. See Fig. 25 for a description of what is stored in the CUG profile table. Stories submitted by CUGs are to be seen only by entitled registered users. Guests and only guests see "fake" headlines of "fake" stories submitted by "fake" CUGs such as "Your Local Hospital" or "Your Managed Care Organization". (The "Guest" account is used when no account can be found for the cuπent user.) These "fake" stories are used to explain and promote the service. Editorial (syndicated and non-syndicated) Healthcare News includes stories that aπive in a daily news feed that gets automatically inserted into the content repository, as well as other stories of interest from various sources that are selected by NewsRounds editors and submitted with the assistance of a web-based form. See Fig. 24 for a description of what is stored in the Editorial Healthcare News source profile table. While both registered users and guests can view the headlines of these stories, only registered users can (upon clicking on the headline link) view the full text of these stories. When guests attempt to view these stories, they are lead to a registration page, and upon registering, are conveyed to the requested page, now as a registered and therefore entitled user. Each of the various components that comprise the NewsRounds service is described below.

Story Display Engine (Figs. 1, 4 and 26)

This engine (Figs. 4 and 26) services all requests to display personalized NewsRounds pages that include stories or list(s) of stories. Examples of such pages include the NewsRounds home page, (Figs. 6 and 6A), which may be of two types. A member of a CUG will have a page similar to Fig. 6, while a user who is not a CUG member will have a home page similar to .Fig. 6 A. Other pages include the All Today's News page, specialty and category home pages, and individual story pages, which are listed along the left navigation column in Figs. 6 and 6 A. The stories used to display these pages are stored in the RDBMS portion of the repository (Figs. 4 and K). The pages that the Story Display Engine is responsible for displaying include the NewsRounds Home Page, News Stories Pages, Specialty News Page Category New page, All Today's News and CUG News Page. Each of these is discussed below. The headline groupings found on the NewsRounds home page (Figs. 6 and 6A) are discussed below.

Top Stories of the Day ("Morning NewsRounds"): NewsRounds editors select "top stories" for inclusion in Morning NewsRounds (Fig. 1). These headline links remain in the "Morning NewsRounds" section until replaced by more recent "top" stories over the next few business days or until the top story flag is turned off, whichever happens first. This grouping is mandatory and cannot be removed from the user's home page.

Selected Categories: When stories are entered into the repository, they are assigned to the category that best describes their content. A story may be assigned to one and only one category (categories are mutually exclusive and exhaustive). Therefore, a given story's headline appears in the headline list of only one category. During registration, registered users choose the categories that interest them most and that they would like to appear on their personalized home page. Guests see the default categories.

Selected Medical Specialties: In addition to being assigned to a category, when stories are entered into the repository, they are also assigned to all the various medical specialties to which their content applies or would be of interest. A story may be assigned to as many specialties as seem to apply (specialties are mutually exclusive and exhaustive). A given story's headline appears in the headline lists of all the specialties to which it has been assigned. During registration, registered users choose the specialties that interest them most and that they would like to appear on their personalized home page. Guests see the default specialties.

When the personal home page is drawn (Fig. 6) the CUG news headlines and the Editorial news headlines are intermingled. The headlines appear in date order with the most recent appearing first (at the top of the list). The two story types (CUG News and Editorial News) are managed quite differently in the various headline grouping (sections) of the NewsRounds home page.

CUG News includes Top Stories of the Day, Selected Categories and Selected Specialties. Top Stories of the Day ("Morning NewsRounds"): The methodology for displaying

CUG news headlines in the "Morning NewsRounds" section on the personalized home page is as follows: Each CUG is entitled to have only one story headline appear in the "Morning NewsRounds" section at any one time. Additionally, the story may appear in the "Morning NewsRounds" section for up a given period of time (e.g., 3-7 days). When a CUG submits a story, they can nominate it for inclusion into this section. If they send multiple stories, they must choose which one is to be nominated. Conversely, they may choose to have no story appear in this section. Once posted, the story remains in the "Morning NewsRounds" section for the given period of time, or until another story is submitted by the CUG and nominated to appear in the section, whichever is earlier. This method ensures that users are not overwhelmed with CUG stories, and ensures that the content is kept fresh. This does mean that there can be days when no CUG news appears for one or more CUGs.

The selection of Morning NewsRounds stories occurs as follows. The Story display engine obtains the minimum number of stories that must appear in Morning NewsRounds for the active CUGs to which the user possesses entitlements, and separates these active CUGs into those with a minimum number of stories that must appear in the Morning NewsRounds section and those with no minimum. For each CUG with a minimum, the list of recent active top stories is retrieved, ordered by date in descending order. From each CUG list, the coπesponding minimum number of recent active top stories are moved to a holding area. If other active top stories (from the CUG) exist which have the same date as the date of the last active top story selected (from the same CUG), those stories are moved to the holding area as well. With regard to the CUGs with no minimum, all recent active top stories are retrieved, ordered by descending date. From this list of stories, only the most recent active top story for each CUG is moved to a holding area. The CUG stories in the holding areas are combined with the active source stories in the holding areas (as described below), re-ordered by date of publication (descending), and sent to a routine that prints the Morning NewsRounds section of the home page.

Selected Categories: The section for each category will not include any CUG news headlines.

Selected Specialties: Similar to the methodology for displaying CUG news headlines in the "Morning NewsRounds" section, all CUG news headlines assigned to specific specialties are displayed in the relevant specialty section a given period of time (e.g., 3-7 days). The essential difference is that there is no limit to the number of stories from a particular CUG that can be displayed in the sections on the home page.

Editorial (syndicated and non-syndicated healthcare) News includes Top Stories of the Day and Selected Categories and Specialties.

Top Stories of the Day ("Morning NewsRounds"): For the "Morning NewsRounds" section, a minimum of nine editorial-sourced stories should appear on the personalized home page. Since there aren't always nine stories each day for certain categories and specialties, the headline display engine includes previous days' news, a day at a time, to get a minimum of nine. On days when there is more than the minimum, all of that day's stories appear.

The following steps are involved in selecting the stories that appear in the Morning NewsRounds section on the home page. The Story Display Engine obtains the minimum number of stories that must appear in Morning NewsRounds for each active source, and separates these active sources into those with a minimum number of stories that must appear in the Morning NewsRounds section and those with no minimum. For each source with a minimum, the list of recent active top stories is retrieved, ordered by descending date. From each source's list, the coπesponding minimum number of recent active top stories is moved to a holding area. If other active top stories (from the source) exist for which the date matches the date of the last active top story selected (from the same source), those stories are moved to the holding area as well. For sources with no minimum, all recent active top stories are retrieved, ordered by descending date. From this list of stories, the three most recent active top stories are moved to a holding area. If other active top stories exist for which the date matches the date of the last active top story selected, those stories are moved to the holding area as well. The active source stories in the holding areas are combined with the CUG stories in the holding areas (as described above), re-ordered by date of publication (descending), and sent to a routine that prints the Morning NewsRounds section of the home page.

Selected Categories and Specialties: For each category and specialty, a minimum of three editorial-sourced stories should appear on the personalized home page. Since there aren't always three stories each day for certain categories and specialties, the headline display engine includes previous days' news, a day at a time, to get a minimum of nine. On days when there is more than the minimum, all of that day's stories appear.

All non-story links on the home page (section headers and navigation links) are active so that registered users and guests can jump to and view the various category and specialty and CUG home pages that comprise the rest of NewsRounds.

The NewsRounds pages include the following: News Story Page (Figs. 7 and 8)

News stories can be held locally or remotely. In either case, the NewsRounds banner and navigation scheme usually gets displayed along with the content of the story. If the story is on a remote site (not part of the repository) the content of the story appears in a browser frame. In some cases, a story may be held locally for a period of days before it "expires" from the site and must be displayed from its source site. After the story expires from the site, it is displayed in a browser frame. Additionally, each story page lists other stories in the grouping. On each story page, the logo of the (editorial or CUG) source appears along with the appropriate copyright notice.

Some stories are stored off-site at the story source, and linking from the headline to the story page is nothing more than a redirection of the browser to the other site - in effect leaving the NewsRounds site. Linking to these off-site stories can be done as a browser frame as well. NewsRounds offers a variety of framed displays of these off-site stories. The off-site story display can include a small header at the top of the page with a link back to NewsRounds and a second link to close the header and allow the linked to page take up the whole browser page. Along with the off-site story (usually displayed in the lower right-hand corner of the displayed page) NewsRounds can display or not display, depending on the requirements of the story's source or the whims of the NewsRounds editorial staff, any combination of the regular NewsRounds header, the Navigation column (left column), and the story header.

This page is accessible by both registered users and guests. Registered users can access both editorial stories and CUG stories from actual CUGs whose content they are entitled to access. Guests can only access CUG stories from "fake" CUGs (whose content they are entitled to access). (See Fig. 12.) Specialty News Page (Fig. 9)

At the top of the page, all of today's headlines for the specialty (e.g., Urology) appear along with a caption (synopsis). Below today's stories a header "Recent SPECIALTYNAME Stories" appears. Below that is a list of headlines with their dates sorted and grouped by date with the most recent first. This list will only contain the last 7 business days of editorial and CUG news. Below that a header "Other SPECIALTYNAME Stories" appears. Below that is a list of headlines with their dates sorted by date with the most recent first. This list will contain what remains of the last month (30 days) of CUG news for the specialty the user is entitled to see.

This page is accessible by both registered users and guests. Registered users see headlines of both editorial stories and CUG stories from CUGs whose content they are entitled to access. Guests see CUG stories from "fake" CUGs whose content they are entitled to access. Editorial headline links lead guests to a registration page; "fake" CUG headline links lead guests to "fake" story. The Specialty News Page contains the headlines and captions (synopses) of stories that have been grouped into the given specialty. For each specialty there will be a page listing all the news for that specialty. Category News Page (Fig. 10) At the top of the page, all of today's headlines for the category (e.g., Legislature and

Legal) appear along with a caption (synopsis). Below today's stories a header "Recent CATEGORYNAME Stories" appears. Below that is a list of headlines with their dates sorted by date with the most recent first. This list will only contain the last 7 days of editorial- source news. This page will not contain CUG news. This page is accessible by both registered users and guests. Registered users see headlines of both editorial stories and CUG stories from CUGs whose content they are entitled to access. Guests see CUG stories from "fake" CUGs whose content they are entitled to access. Editorial headline links lead guests to a registration page; "fake" CUG headline links lead guests to "fake" story. The Category News Page contains the headlines and captions (synopses) of stories that have been grouped into the given category. For each category there will be a page listing all the news for that category. All Today's News (Fig. 11) The "All of Today's News" page (e.g., for August 31, 2000) contains the headlines and captions (synopses) of stories that have been published on the day the page is being displayed. Story headlines on this page are grouped by category and entitled CUG and within those groups are sorted by date (and time), with the most recent first. This page is accessible by both registered users and guests. Registered users see headlines of both editorial stories and CUG stories from CUGs whose content they are entitled to access. Guests see headlines of both editorial stories and "fake" CUG stories from "fake" CUGs whose content they are entitled to access. Editorial headline links lead guests to a registration page; "fake" CUG headline links lead guests to "fake" story. CUG News Page (Fig. 12)

The CUG news page (e.g., a fake CUG "County Medical") lists the headlines of all the news stories from the CUG that have not yet expired. The CUG news page is identified by the CUG's logo. The logo serves as a link to the CUG's own site, should one exist. This page works similarly to the specialty news pages. The headlines CUG news appears at the top with more recent stories (all in the database) at the bottom with most recent first.

Additionally the page will contain a links/reference section of links to both external content (via a frame) and locally hosted content. Locally hosted content will be created in HTML, ideally it will automatically inherit the navigation scheme and template.

This page is accessible by registered users entitled to see content from the CUG whose page is being displayed. Registered users see headlines of CUG stories from the CUG whose page they are displaying. Only registered users who are entitled to see content from a specific CUG may display that CUG's news page. Users who have not been entitled to receive content from a specific CUG would never know of the page's existence, as the link to that page will never appear anywhere on that user's version of NewsRounds. Site Navigation and Page Displays

There are three navigational components to NewsRounds: (1) the story and home page navigation column that appears along the left margin of most pages on the site (e.g., see Fig. 6) (those generated by the story engine); (2) the navigation menus that appear at the top and bottom of most pages (those that are not pages from other sites) (e.g., see Fig. 6); and (3) the context switching tabs that appear across the page near the top, between the header and the content (e.g., "Careers" in Fig. 6).

Navigation Column: The navigation column consists of a section header (or title) followed by a list of CUGs or section members (e.g., MGMA in Fig. 6). The list of section members include the name or logo of the section member rendered as a link to either the section member homepage on the NewsRounds site or (in the case of the sponsor or partner lists) to a site designated by that section member:

Other (CUG, Specialty or Category) Stories: When the text of a story is being displayed, the headlines of and links to other recent similar stories are displayed in the navigation column (see Fig. 7). If a story is being displayed, the navigation column will display other recent stories, but the list of stories displayed will vary depending upon which list the story was displayed from. If a CUG story is being displayed, but it was linked to from one of the specialty pages, other recent news from that specialty will be displayed in the navigation column. Likewise, if the same story were being displayed as the result of a link from the CUG page, other recent news from the CUG will be displayed in the navigation column. These recent stories will appear in the navigation column under a section entitled "Other CUG| Specialty I Category Stories" (whichever applies as described above).

Sponsors: Sponsor names or logos will appear in the navigation column under a section entitled "Sponsors". Text-based sponsor names appear alphabetically at the top, followed by image-based sponsor logos, again alphabetically. The links underlying these names and logos all link to the site of the sponsor. A CUG sponsor name or logo will appear on a user's page only if the user is entitled to see content from a CUG sponsored by the sponsor and is either looking at the home page of that CUG or is looking at a story published by that CUG or if the sponsor is a global sponsor - that is, a sponsor configured to appear on every page an entitled user displays. CUGs may request that no sponsors appear on their home pages or on the story pages they publish on NewsRounds. A category sponsor name or logo will appear on a user's page only if the user is either looking at the home page of that category or is looking at a story for the sponsored category. A specialty sponsor name or logo will appear on a user's page only if the user is either looking at the home page of that specialty or is looking at a story for the sponsored specialty as a result of linking to the story from the sponsored specialty's home page. If there are no sponsors on a particular page, the user will not see the sponsor header.

Partners: A Partner's text-based name or image-based logo will appear in the navigation column under a section entitled "Partner". The link underlying the name or logo links to the site of the partner. A partner's name or logo will appear on a user's page only if the user has linked to NewsRounds from that partner, and will appear on the user's pages only as long as the cuπent session lasts. A user who links to NewsRounds from several different partners over time will only see the logo of the partner he or she just linked from. Should a user navigate to the NewsRounds site from the address line of the browser or from a non-partner's link will not see a partner name or logo or even the partner section header.

Affiliates (or CUGs): CUG names or logos appear in the navigation column under a section entitled "Affiliates News". (See Fig. 6). Text-based CUG names appear alphabetically at the top, followed by image-based CUG logos, again alphabetically. The links underlying these names and logos all link to the NewsRounds home page of the CUG. A CUG name or logo will appear on a user's page only if the user is entitled to see content from the CUG by having been named by that CUG or falling into some profile that entitles the user to receive content from the CUG. An example of the latter type of entitlement would be a regional CUG that entitles anyone having a zipcode that falls within the region covered by the CUG to receive its content. For more information on entitlements, see Matching below. If the user hasn't been entitled to see any CUGs, the user will not see the "Affiliates" section header. Categories: All NewsRounds categories appear in the navigation column under a section entitled "Categories News". (See Fig. 6). Each category name is a link to the NewsRounds home page of the category, where all the news for that category can be displayed.

Specialties: All NewsRounds specialties appear in the navigation column under a section entitled "Specialty News". Each specialty name is a link to the NewsRounds home page of the specialty, where all the news for that specialty can be displayed.

Navigation Menus: There are two navigation menus that appear on almost every page of the site. One menu appears at the top of the site as part of the header and depending upon whether or not the user is logged in (has a NewsRounds cookie) will contain image-based links to register or to log in (for those not logged in), to find out what is new on the site or to search the news archives (for those logged in), or to access NewsRounds help (for both types of users). The other text-based menu appears at the bottom of the page (see Fig. 6, page 2), and depending upon whether or not the user is logged in (has a NewsRounds cookie) will contain links to register or to log in (for those not logged in), to edit their registration profile or to personalize the categories or specialties that appear on their NewsRounds home page (for those logged in), or to access NewsRounds help (for both types of users).

Tabs: Running horizontally across the page, between the header and the content (whether it is a home page or a story page) is the tab bar. This bar contains a number of hyperlinks (e.g., "Careers" in Fig. 6), in tab form, which among other things allow the user to change the context in which he or she experiences NewsRounds. For instance, the user can click on the links tab to switch from viewing stories by CUG, specialty and category to viewing links by CUG, specialty and category. Other context switching tabs might include a 5 link to view CMEs or clinical challenges by CUG, specialty or category. Other tabs include tabs hosted by sponsors or CUGs that only appear when the sponsor or CUG is present in the user's profile or some content from the sponsor or CUG is being displayed on the page. User Registration and Personalization Engine (Figs. 2, 4, and 26) This engine services all requests for registration, personalization, log on and log off, and 0 user profile maintenance pages. All user registration profile and preference information is stored in the web site database (Fig. 23). The User Registration and Personalization Engine is responsible for displaying the following pages.

"Why Register?" Page (Fig. 13): This page's primary purpose is to discuss the benefits of registering for NewsRounds. This page has links to the NewsRounds registration page and s the NewsRounds log-in page.

Registration - Personal Information Page (Fig. 14A and 14B): The registration form collects personal information from the user. The information is stored in a user profile table (Fig. 23). The user profile is augmented by the CUGs, the content of which the user has been entitled to view, as CUG entitlement get added or removed; by the partners from whose sites 0 the user links to NewsRounds, by the specialties and categories the user selects to appear on his or her home page, or by the changes to the profile entered by the user (after following the "Edit Profile" link.

The registration form will vary, depending upon whether the user has indicated that he or she is a clinical practitioner, a healthcare professional who is not a clinical practitioner, or 5 an international healthcare professional. By clinical practitioner, we mean someone in possession of a DEA number. In an attempt to discourage non-healthcare users, NewsRounds asks for the first two and last four characters of the DEA number of clinical practitioners and the name of the company or practice of healthcare professionals not in possession of a DEA number or international healthcare professionals. It is important to note o that due to the nature of the DEA number, it is impossible to take the first two and last four characters of a DEA number and recreate the whole DEA number of a given individual.

Each of the fields on the page is validated upon submission. The following validations are performed: telephone numbers and email addresses must be coπectly formatted, required fields must be entered, the username must be unique to the user table. If any validation check fails, the form is redisplayed with an eπor message indicating what problem prevented the form from being accepted.

Personalize Home Page (Fig. 15): After the registration form has been submitted, the user is sent to a page that allows them to select which categories and specialties they would like displayed on their home page from the available categories and specialties. This page is also reached by selecting the personalize link found throughout the site. Upon reaching the page, the user's cuπent choices are selected. If the user has just registered, default choices as specified by NewsRounds editors will be displayed. The user can add and remove items and submit the selections. If the user is newly registered, the user is sent to the registration confirmation page. Otherwise, the user is returned to the page from whence he or she came.

Registration Confirmation Page: After the registration form has been accepted, the user is presented with a confirmation page. This page includes a brief thank you, a notification that two confirming e-mails have been sent - one containing the selected username and the other containing the selected password, and a button to proceed to begin using NewsRounds, which takes the user to the personalized home page.

Login Page (Fig. 16): The login page appears when the user clicks on a "Log In" link from any of the various places on the site. The page allows users to enter the username and password, along with a checkbox to indicate whether the user is logging in from a personal computer or a shared computer. By selecting the personal computer option, the user is telling the server to send a disk based cookie that expires in two years. By selecting the shared computer option, the user is telling the server to send a memory based cookie with no expiration date, so that the cookie will disappear after the browser is closed. Successful entry results in the server sending a cookie containing the user's id to the user's browser, and takes user to his or her personal home page.

Forgotten Username or Password Page (Fig. 17): If the user has forgotten their password, a "forgotten password" page can be accessed. The user can type their user name or their email address and their username and password are instantly e-mailed to them in two separate e-mails. The e-mails are sent to their e-mail address on file rather than to the email address they type as part of the forgotten password form.

Edit User Profile Page: When the user clicks on a link to edit their profile, they are be asked to re-login for security purposes. Once complete, they're presented with the ability to change their demographic information, their name or their password. The edit profile page is identical to the registration form, except that the information on the page contains the information provided during the registration process, and the user is not allowed to change his or her username.

Personalization Process flow proceeds as follows. Refeπing to Fig. 2, NewsRounds site (step 20) without a cookie, if the user is not registered, registration proceeds in steps 21- 23. If the user is registered, he logs on in step 24. After registration (step 23) or log-on (step 24), the user is redirected to the page he requested (step 25) where he accessed NewsRounds (step 20). However, the page is not displayed until it is personalized (steps 27 and 28).

Search Engine (Figs. 4, 22 and 26) The table that stores NewsRounds stories (Fig. 22) is used to search NewsRounds content. Some content is hosted locally in the Web site database and some content is hosted on remote servers. To handle this, the indexing process indexes a place-holding record in the web site database that contains a summary of any off-site story that needs to be indexed. Guests are able to search and see results, but are not able to access the links to the stories unless they have registered for the service. The search engine indexes stories found in the web site database once daily. The resulting search database is stored in a proprietary format. The search engine services all search requests generated by users by retrieving and displaying result sets from the proprietary search database. Search result sets include all entitlement restrictions. If the user accesses NewsRounds with a cookie (step 26), the he is directed to the requested page. In either case, after being directed to the requested page with or without a cookie, before display, affiliates and preferences are determined in step 27 and the requested page is personalized in step 28.

All of the functions described above are perfoπned by the NewsRounds Server(s) (Fig. 4).

Help Engine (Figs. 4 and 26) There are a number of FAQs and help pages available through the help engine. Among the FAQs are a Registration FAQ, a Log In FAQ, a Cookie FAQ, a Why Register FAQ, a How to Make NewsRounds Your Home Page and How to Include a Link to NewsRounds on Your Site page, a Contact Us page, and a page that explains what each category and specialty means. In addition, there is a page that allows users to list affiliations that they have that aren't cuπently linked to them. The output of the form is e-mailed to ClinNet staff and stored in a database table for review. Site Administration (Figs. 4 and 27)

Each of the various administrative components that comprise the NewsRounds service is described below. These pages are password protected and accessible only by ClinNet Solutions staff. Story Administration: This facility allows NewsRounds editors to enter, edit, remove, set properties for, categorize, and prioritize CUG and non-CUG (source) stories. These stories are stored in the web site database.

Add or Edit a CUG or Source Story Page: This page allows editors to set properties for CUG (Fig. 20) and non-CUG (source) stories (Fig. 21). Editors select the CUG or News Source whose stories will be added or edited. Once the existing or new story has been selected, the page allows for the manual entry of all fields. Editors can select or change the category or specialty for the story; mark the story as a top story; edit the title of the story; edit or write the synopsis or text of the story; edit or write the citation name; add an abstract link, a full text link and/or a more information link; add, edit or remove the publication, embargo, expiration, and archive expiration date; or delete a story (mark the story as "deleted")

Stories to be Categorized Page (Fig. 18): Any stories that have been automatically added to the database via an automated process appear in this list until categorized by an editor. Editors can select or change the category or specialty for the story; mark the story as a top story; edit the title of the story; edit or write the synopsis or text of the story; edit or write the citation name; add an abstract link, a full text link and/or a more information link; add, edit or remove the publication, embargo, expiration, and archive expiration date; or delete a story (mark the story as "deleted").

Top Story Selection (Fig. 19): This page shows all of the stories of the day and allows editors to select the top stories. This page lists all of the day's live stories as well as stories queued to go live.

CUG Administration: This facility allows NewsRounds editors to enter, edit, and remove NewsRounds CUG profiles. CUG profiles are stored in the web site database.

Source Administration: This facility allows NewsRounds editors to enter, edit, and remove NewsRounds (new) source profiles. Source profiles are stored in the web site database. ReutersHealth is an example of a news source.

Contact Administration: This facility allows NewsRounds editors to enter, edit, and remove contacts and CUG users who are not providers. These contact and non-provider user profiles are stored in the web site database. Sponsor Administration: This facility allows NewsRounds editors to enter, edit, and remove NewsRounds sponsor profiles. These sponsor profiles are stored in the web site database.

Partner Administration: This facility allows NewsRounds editors to enter, edit, and remove NewsRounds partner profiles. These partner profiles are stored in the web site database. Partners are companies that link to NewsRounds.

Tab Administration: This facility allows NewsRounds editors to enter, edit, and remove NewsRounds Tab profiles. These Tab profiles are stored in the web site database. Search Engine Indexing Process: This process updates the database used by the search engine that gets invoked when a user requests a search of the NewsRounds story database. Stories that have been added to the NewsRounds story repository since last the process ran are indexed and added to the search engine database. Stories that have expired from the NewsRounds story repository since last the process ran are removed from the search engine database. Stories that have been updated in the NewsRounds story repository since last the process ran are re-indexed and updated in the search engine database.

Editorial Story File Transfer: ReutersHealth stories are automatically retrieved from the ReutersHealth FTP server on a daily basis (6:30 AM ET). RHI sends out professional medical news on weekdays at 6:30am ET via e-mail or via FTP (our choice). The e-mail contains all the stories of the day in one long message; the FTP contains all of the stories in one long text file. Instructions for parsing this feed are provided with this document. RHI allows us to host 7 days worth of Reuters news on our server; after that, we can only display the title, a synopsis and a link back to their web site. We have decided that all Reuters News should expire after 7 business days. Since we don't expect to show news from past 7 days, we don't expect ever to link off to their site, except for archival searches Story Load proceeds as illustrated by the flow chart in Fig. 1. Stories, pulled from feeds or obtained by fax, e-mail, etc., are loaded into the database of the NewsRounds Server(s) (Fig.4) in steps 10-13. The stories are edited in step 14, and selected for display in step 15. In step 16 the stories are activated or made live for display so they are available (step 17) in response to requests. The NewsRounds server(s) (Fig. 4) are responsible for pulling stories from feeds (step 10), and the other functions. Reuters stories are loaded into the NewsRounds database as follows. Once a day, Reuters releases a batch of professional clinical news stories. Each story is contained within a separate file. The format of the file names are as follows: CCYYMMDDXXXXNNN.txt, where CCYY is the year ('2000'), MM is the month ('09'), DD is the date ('28'), XXXX is a four character abbreviation of the Reuters category the story has been assigned to by the editors at Reuters ('CLIN'), and NNN is the sequential number of the story within the assigned category ('001 '). To release the stories, Reuters places the new files in the predefined directory on their server at Reuters at a prescribed time of day (after removing the previous day's files). Cuπently, this takes place a little after 8:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Periodically during the day, a file transfer process on the NewsRounds server connects to the server at ReutersHealth (via FTP) on which the aforementioned stories have been placed, and looks for new files in the predefined directory. If no new files are found, this process terminates. If new files are found, the process copies those files to a directory on the NewsRounds server where they await further processing. This process determines whether a file needs to be copied or not by checking for the existence of the file on both servers, and if found on both, by comparing the dates of the two files. If there is no coπesponding file on the NewsRounds server, the file is copied from the ReutersHealth server to the NewsRounds server. If the file is found on both servers, but the date of the file on the ReutersHealth server is more recent that the date of the file on the NewsRounds server, the file is copied from the ReutersHealth server to the NewsRounds server. Once all the new or updated files have been copied, the file transfer process disconnects from the ReutersHealth server and terminates. At this time, to allow ReutersHealth some leeway in releasing the files, the NewsRounds file transfer process runs four times, once every 15 minutes, starting at 8:01 pm eastern time.

Editorial Story File Load (Load_db.pl): Load_db.pl parses the transfeπed ReutersHealth stories, loads them into the web site database story table, and prepares them for editing. This runs once a day, immediately after the files have been transferred.

Once the file transfer process terminates, a data loading process determines whether any files need to be loaded by checking for the existence of similarly named files with a .lod extension (instead of a .txt extension) in the same directory, and if found, by comparing the dates of the similarly named .txt and .lod files. (The .lod files are empty - that is, they contain nothing and consequently have a length of zero). If there is no coπesponding .lod file, the .txt file is loaded into the NewsRounds database. If both a .txt file and .lod file are found, but the date of the .txt file is more recent that the date of the .lod file, the file is loaded into the NewsRounds database. Once the .txt file has been loaded, a new (similarly named) .lod file is created if the .lod file didn't previously exist, or the existing (similarly named) .lod file is 'touched' so that the date of the file is changed. An e-mail containing the list of the files that have been loaded is sent to the NewsRounds editors.

Files selected for loading are opened, parsed into their various data elements, and inserted into the database. The ReutersHealth-assigned category is remapped to one of the NewsRounds categories by default. If a file is an update of a previously loaded file, the record associated with the previous load is deleted the before the new record is inserted. (The src_key field in the story table is used to store the name of the file being loaded, and is used to find the record associated with the previous load that needs to be deleted). An e-mail is sent to the NewsRounds editors every time an updated file causes a story to be reloaded in such a way. No e-mail is sent for files that are being loaded the first time. The stories coπesponding to the loaded files appear in the list of stories to be categorized (Fig. A) by the NewsRounds editors.

Guest Story Maintenance Update: Dailyagent.pl is a task that runs once a day (1 :00 AM ET) to make sure that stories from demo CUGs are updated to appear on non-registered visitors' home pages.

MATCHING PROCESS (Figs. 3A, 3B, 5 and 28) CUG Provider List Management

An organization that publishes content on NewsRounds and controls which users are entitled to access that content is called a closed user group (CUG). A CUG controls

NewsRounds entitlements by providing ClinNet with a list of the users who can access that CUG's content. Since the users that are entitled to access a CUG's content changes over time as members join or leave the organization, ClinNet must encourage the CUGs to provide new entitlement lists on a regular basis. These entitlement lists can be either updates to or replacements for the lists originally submitted. CUGs have widely differing ways of delivering these entitlement lists, and the lists they deliver have widely varying formats and contents.

ClinNet requests that, at a minimum, these entitlement lists include the user's full name and office address. CUGs are also asked to provide other types of information that might be helpful in coπectly identifying the user when her or she registers for NewsRounds. Other data items the matching engine has been programmed to use include the user's phone and fax numbers, e-mail address, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number, Universal Provider Identification Number (UPIN), and the identification number supplied by the CUG. ClinNet must convert these lists into text files of a standard fixed- width record-per- row format. Much of this process is done manually with the aide of a macro-enhanced spreadsheet and/or word processor. Once converted, the resulting files are submitted to the matching engine. Registration List Management (Figs. 2, 5, 14A, 14B and 28)

As part of the NewsRounds registration process, users are asked to provide personal information. At a minimum, users are asked to provide their full name and zip code. In addition, they are asked to provide their office address, phone number, and e-mail address. To discourage users who don't work in the healthcare field, potential registrants are asked to supply the first 2 and last 4 characters of their DEA number (if they have one) or the name of their employer. The values they supply are merely checked for reasonableness; nothing more.

Registration information is stored in a user profile table on the web site. Users can opt to change their profile at any time after they have registered (through the edit profile utility). The changed information is stored in the same user profile table on the web site.

Information supplied during the registration process is captured in the database on the web site. A process on the matching server periodically checks the registration table on the web server to determine whether any new users have registered or any existing users have changed their registration information since last the process checked. If new or changed user profiles are discovered, the information those users supplied is placed in the same fixed-width one-user-record-per-row format and downloaded.

The matching process takes addresses in user records, compares them to the United States Postal Service's master address list. Address variations are replaced by the addresses found in the master address list. Addresses for which there are no apparent matches in the master address list are left unchanged

Other data items in the user record, such as name, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, professional identification numbers (such as UPIN or DEA number) or organizational identification numbers are cleaned up and reformatted.

The coπected data items are broken into their various components such as name, office address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, professional identification numbers (UPIN, DEA, etc) or organizational identification numbers. These components are added to the various coπesponding tables of the matching database. The various records that result from this process (from closed user group lists and newly created or edited user profiles) are compared to existing records to determine if they already exist in the database.

If a new component matches and existing component, the new (for records that resulted from a newly registered user), updated (for records that resulted from users who updated their profile), or potential (for records that started as a record in a closed user group list) user is assigned a matching probability for the user to which the existing component belongs. The probability value is based upon the component type. After all the components of the new or updated user's record have been compared to existing components, the probabilities for each of the potential matching existing users are summed, and if the summed probabilities exceed a certain threshold, the new or updated user is considered to already exist in the database, and the new or updated user record is added to the database and linked to the user record whose components provided the highest probabilistic match. If no probability exceeds the matching threshold, the new or updated user is considered to not exist in the database, and is added as a new user - to be considered in future matches.

The user record list to which the new record has been added is checked to determine if any of the records coπespond to a registered user. A chain of records might consist entirely of closed user group records, representing a case where one or more closed user groups has submitted lists that included a potential user's name, but the user has yet to access the NewsRounds service. If one of the records in the chain coπesponds to a registered user, a process connects to the web site database and rebuilds that user's entitlement list (where each record in the chain represents a separate entitlement).

A special type of entitlement is created for users who register with a zip code that falls within the region prescribed by a geographic closed user group. When these geographic CUGs are created, their region of coverage is defined by selecting the states and counties the regional CUG covers.

The matching service is a software engine that is used to match NewsRounds registrants with CUG-supplied provider lists. This matching of names from the two sources is what allows NewsRounds to personalize content when users browse the site. The matching service makes use of a postal hygiene library to normalize addresses prior to matching. What follows is a description of the various components that comprise the matching service.

Figs. 3A and 3B illustrate the matching flow process. In steps 30-32, a provider file is created, and in steps 33-34 a file of registrants is created. Matching is initiated for each file in step 35 and provider and registrant addresses are standardized in step 36, and normalized and added to a database in step 37. Normalized entries are compare in step 38 and a file of new registrant-affiliate matches is created in step 39. Updated takes place in step 40. The functions described above are performed by the matching server. Batch File Transfer (Figs. 5 and 28)

This application is transfers data between the NewsRounds web site database and the NewsRounds matching databases. The application runs every 30 minutes. The application checks to see if any new or modified CUG, contact or registrant records have been submitted to the web site database since the application last ran. If any have, they are downloaded (via ODBC) and placed in specially formatted files for import into the matching database. The application also checks to see if there are any new "registrant-CUG supplied provider list" matches (the result of the matching process) that need to be written to the web site database. File Transfer Trigger (Figs. 5 and 28)

These are freeware applications that are used to detect when a file has been downloaded and is awaiting processing, and to queue the file for processing. When one is detected, it is moved to a directory where it can be processed by the matching engine. Matching Engine (Figs. 3A, 3B, 5 and 28)

This is the application that initiates matching. It is called when the file transfer trigger moves one of the downloaded files (or some NewsRounds personnel moves one of the provider lists submitted by a CUG) into the appropriate directory on the matching server for processing. FileAnival.exe calls SQLCmdExecute.exe, which calls the appropriate matching procedure. Which procedure is called depends upon which file (type) is being processed. One of the first things the procedure does is to call CNPSStart.exe, which in turn calls CNPS.exe, which is the routine that returns a sanitized version of the address for each registrant or provider being processed to the procedure. A set of normalized and sanitized entries (for items such as name, office address, phone number, email, etc) is added to the matching database for every registrant and CUG provider being processed. These new entries are compared against existing entries to determine new registrant-CUG matches. A file of new registrant-CUG matches is created and placed in a directory, to be uploaded by NewsRoundsFiles.exe.

Utility to Format Provider Lists (Figs. 5 and 28)

This utility was written to assist in formatting provider lists received from CUGs. Regional CUG Setup (Figs. 5 and 28) This utility is used to configure regional CUGs (CUGs that match on a zip code rather than inclusion in an CUG provided list) Registration Status Utility (Figs. 5 and 28)

This utility can be used to research the results of matching. It queries the matching database.

Entitlements (Figs. 2 and 4) CUG entitlements are stored in the record that gets created in the user table when the user registers for the NewsRounds service. Cuπently, there is a time lag between when the user registers and when the matching engine is able to determine the new user's entitlements, Until that time, the user will have no entitlements. It is envisioned that at some point in the not too distant future, matching will be done in "real-time" as part of the registration process. Until that time, entitlements to certain regional or geographic CUGs can be temporarily enabled until the matching engine grants permanent entitlements to those CUGs by storing the entitlements in the user's record in the user table. The temporary assignment is made if the user fits the profile of any of these regional CUGs. (Does the user live in a zip code covered by the CUG?) The temporary assignment is made by temporarily storing the entitlements in the user's record in the user table.

Additionally, the act of linking from a Partner site to NewsRounds can similarly trigger the temporary entitlement to one or more CUGs maintained by that Partner. This temporary entitlement would last until the matching engine has had a chance to a) add the user as an entitleable member to the lists submitted by the CUGs, b) matched the registration record to the new entitleable list entry (in essence, the matching engine duplicates the registration record in the entitleable list to virtually guarantee a match), and c) temporarily store the entitlements in the user's record in the user table. Whenever the user requests a story-related page from NewsRounds, the first thing

NewsRounds does is to determine who the user is, and, by extension, what the user is entitled to see. This is done by examining the cookie that is presented by the browser in the HTTP GET method, and using the user_id stored within to retrieve the cuπent list of (temporary and permanent) CUGs the user is entitled to see. First, with those entitlements, the story engine determines whether any CUG-related tabs need to appear on the page being rendered. This is done by retrieving information about tabs that are associated with the CUGs that appear in the user's entitlements field. Then a determination is made as to whether any of the tabs can be displayed on the page being displayed (local CUG tabs can only appear when content from the CUG is being displayed or the CUG's home page is being displayed; global CUG tabs will be displayed regardless of what is being displayed; both local and global CUG tabs can only be displayed when the CUG appears in the user's entitlements). Once the selections have been made, the personalized tabs bar is sent to the browser for display.

Next, with those entitlements, the story engine determines whether any CUG-related sponsors need to appear on the page being rendered. This is done by retrieving information about sponsors that are associated with the CUGs that appear in the user's entitlements field. Then a determination is made as to whether any of the sponsors can be displayed on the page being displayed (local CUG sponsors can only appear when content from the CUG is being displayed or the CUG's home page is being displayed; global CUG sponsors will be displayed regardless of what is being displayed; a CUG can request that no sponsors appear on its NewsRounds home page or on any of its content pages; both local and global CUG sponsors can only be displayed when the CUG appears in the user's entitlements). Once the selections have been made, the personalized tabs bar is sent to the browser for display.

Next, with those entitlements, the story engine determines which CUGs will appear under the "Affiliates" header of the navigation column. The user will see the link to the NewsRounds home page for a given CUG in the "Affiliates" section only if that CUG appears in the user's entitlements. Once the selections have been made, the personalized "Affiliates" section of the navigation column is sent to the browser for display.

At this point, the remainder of the navigation column (the portion that has no entitleable content) is built and displayed.

Next, with those entitlements, the story engine retrieves the story or list(s) of story headlines required by the requested URL. If a single story is requested, first the story type is determined, and if the story is a public story, it is retrieved, and if it is a "private" story, the user's entitlements are checked, and either the story is displayed or access is denied. (In the data model, non-entitleable "public" stories have a source number greater than zero and a CUG number equal to zero, while entitleable "private" or "CUG" stories have a source number equal to zero and a CUG number greater than zero.) If the story engine is displaying one (or more) list(s) of story headlines, "public" stories are retrieved for category or specialty lists, and "private" stories are retrieved for category, specialty and CUG lists. If a category or specialty list is being displayed, the story engine makes sure that only "private" stories from CUGs that appear in the user's entitlements list are retrieved. If a CUG page is being displayed, no "public" stories can be retrieved, as there is no such thing as a "public" CUG story, so only "private" stories from the requested CUG will appear, and only if that CUG appears in the user's entitlements list (otherwise, access is denied). Once both the "public" and "private" stories have been selected for display, the story engine sorts and displays the stories in chronological order from most recent to least recent.

Claims

1. A method of providing public and private health-related information to users via an open network, comprising: providing public health-related information that may be communicated over the network; providing private health-related information pertaining to a group of users of a plurality of groups of users that may be communicated over the network; and providing over the network (a) public health-related information to users and (b) private health-related information pertaining to a group only to users who are a member of that group.
2. The method according to claim 1, wherein public and respective private information are distributed over the network to users of respective groups for display together on user devices.
3. The method according to claim 1, including registering a user as a registered user of the network who provides pre-defined identification data to the network, and providing access to full text versions of public health related information only to registered users.
4. The method according to claim 1, wherein the public and private health related information comprise discrete units of information.
5. The method according to claim 4, wherein the discrete units of information are stored in a database accessible by the network.
6. The method according to claim 5, including enabling a user to search the database, wherein the search is restricted to public health-related information and only the private health related information that a user is entitled to view based on that user's membership, if any, in one or more groups of users.
7. The method according to claim 6, wherein each discrete unit of public or private information stored in the database is associated with a summary.
8. The method according to claim 7, wherein the network comprises a client- server network, wherein users access server devices in the network using client devices.
9. The method according to claim 8, wherein a summary is a headline, caption or synopsis relating to a full-text version of the unit of information.
10. The method according claim 8, wherein the server facilitates a web site.
11. The method according to claim 10, including transmitting a mixture of summaries to a client device from a server device for display to the user, the mixture including various instances of summaries of public information and various instances of summaries of private information pertaining to any group that the user is a member of, if any.
12. The method according to claim 11 , wherein the mixture of summaries is transmitted by a web site server in response to a request from a client device to display a predetermined web page associated with the web site.
13. The method according to claim 12, including providing links from the transmitted summaries to the full-text versions associated therewith,
14. The method according to claim 13, including categorizing the public health- related information into a plurality of pre-determined topical categories and organizing the displayable summaries by category.
15. The method according to claim 14, including categorizing the public health- related information into a plurality of pre-determined physician practice areas and organizing the displayable summaries by practice area.
16. The method according to claim 14, including capturing users' prefeπed categories during a registration process and transmitting summaries of public information matching these preferences to registered users.
17. The method according to claim 1, comprising establishing a user group based on a pre-determined list of users.
18. The method according to claim 1 , comprising establishing a user group based on a geographical characteristic of users captured during a user registration process.
19. The method according to claim 8, including requiring the user to indicate during a log-in process whether the client device is a private or shared device.
20. The method according to claim 19, including sending a cookie to the client device from a server device upon login, wherein the cookie stores the user's registration profile and expires when browser software operating on the client device is closed.
21. A system for providing public and private health-related information over an open network, comprising: a server enabled to communicate with client devices over the network; at least one database, accessible by the server, storing (a) public health-related information intended for public dissemination, (b) definitions of multiple groups of users, and (c) private health-related information intended for dissemination only to the members of the groups of users; the server providing over the network (a) public health-related information to client devices and (b) private health-related information only to members of a group to which that private information pertains.
22. The system according to claim 21, wherein public and respective private information are provided over the network to users of respective groups for display together on client devices.
23. The system according to claim 21 , wherein the server is programmed to register a user who provides, via a client device, pre-defined identification data to the server.
24. The system according to claim 22, wherein the server is programmed to provide access to full text versions of the public information only to client devices of registered users.
25. The system according to claim 21, wherein the public information and the private information stored in the database comprise discrete units of information.
26. The system according to claim 30, wherein the server is programmed to allow a client device to search the database, the search being restricted to public information and only the private information that the user. is entitled to view based on that user's membership, if any, in one or more groups of users.
27. The system according to claim 26, wherein each unit of public or private information stored in the database is associated with a summary.
28. The system according to claim 27, wherein the server is programmed to transmit to client devices a mixture of summaries for display to a user, the mixture including various instances of public information summaries and various instances of private information summaries pertaining to any group that the user is a member of, if any.
29. The system according to claim 28, wherein a summary is a headline, caption or synopsis relating to a full-text version of the unit of information.
30. The system according claim 28, wherein the server facilitates a web site.
31. The system according to claim 30, wherein the mixture of summaries is provided in response to a request from a client device to display a pre-detemiined web page associated with the web site.
32. The system according to claim 31 , comprising links associated with the summaries to coπesponding full-text versions of the summaries.
33. The system according to claim 32, wherein the public health-related information is categorized into a plurality of pre-determined topical categories in the database whereby the summaries can be displayed on user devices by category.
34. The system according to claim 33, wherein the public health-related information is categorized into a plurality of pre-determined physician practice areas, whereby summaries can be displayed on user devices by practice area.
35. The system according to claim 33, wherein the server is programmed to capture users' prefeπed categories during a registration process and provide public information summaries matching these preferences to registered users.
36. The system according to claim 20, wherein a user group is defined based on a pre-determined list of users.
37. The system according to claim 20, wherein a user group is defined based on a geographical characteristic of users captured during a user registration process.
38. The system according to claim 20, wherein the server is programmed to require users to indicate during a log-in process whether the client device used during log in is a private or shared device.
39. The system according to claim 20, wherein the server provides a cookie to the client device upon login by a user, the cookie storing the user's registration profile and expiring when browser software operating on the client device is closed.
40. A system for providing organization-specific information to members of health care organizations, comprising: a server accessible by user devices over an open network; a computer-accessible memory storing definitions of multiple groups of users; at least one database storing private and public health-related information and summaries thereof, wherein private information and summaries thereof are associated with user groups; the server being programmed to provide a client device of a user who is member of at least one group a mix of summarized information including instances of summarized public information and instances of summarized private information pertaining to at least that group or groups of which the user is a member; whereby a member of a user group is provided with the summarized private information of that group, if any, and summarized public information for display together on a user device.
41. The system according to claim 40, wherein the mix of summarized information is provided to the user device when the user device initiates a session with the server.
42. The system according to claim 41, wherein the summaries are headlines, captions or synopsis of full-text versions of the coπesponding health-related information stored in the database or accessible from another server over the network.
43. The system according to claim 42, comprising links associated with the summaries to full-text versions of the summaries.
44. The system according to claim 43, wherein the health-related information and the coπesponding summaries are associated with a publication date, and wherein the mix comprises a pre-determined number of the latest-dated public and private summaries.
45. The system according to claim 40, wherein a user group is defined based on a pre-determined list of users.
46. The system according to claim 40, wherein a user group is defined based on a geographical characteristic of users captured during a user registration process.
47. A method of advertising over the Internet to targeted health-care professionals, comprising: providing a web server programmed to host a health-related information service web site and to communicate with web browsers; providing public health-related news for distribution by the server to web browsers; providing private health-related information pertaining to a group of users of a plurality of groups of users for distribution by the server to web browsers; providing (a) the public health-related information to web browsers of users and (b) private information only to web browsers of users who are a member of a group to which the private information pertains; providing health-care related advertisements to users on the basis of their membership in one or more groups.
48. A method of providing health-related information to health-care professionals free of charge over the Internet, comprising: providing a web server programmed to host a health-related information service web site and to communicate with web browsers; providing public health-related news for distribution by the server to web browsers; providing private health-related information pertaining to a group of health care professional users of a plurality of groups of users for distribution by the server to web browsers; providing (a) the public health-related information to web browsers of users and (b) private information only to web browsers of health care professional users who are a member of a group to which the private information pertains; providing health-care related advertisements to health care professional users on the basis of their membership in one or more groups; and charging advertisers for the advertising to defray the cost of providing information to health care professional users free of charge.
49. An electronic information distribution system providing health-related information to users of the system with an incentive to increase usage of the system, comprising: a computer accessible by user devices over an open network; at least one database of health-related information from which the computer provides health-related information to user devices over the network; computer accessible memory storing information defining a plurality of user groups; private health-related information in the database associated with each user group; and programming which causes the computer to (a) provide private health-related information in the database associated with a user group only to user devices of members of that user group while also providing other health-related information in the database to user devices of such users, and (b) provide such other health-related information to users who are not a member of any group; whereby members of user groups incentivized to access the computer in order to obtain private information are also provided with other information, thereby increasing usage of the system.
50. The system according to claim 49, wherein a user may be a member of more than one user group, thereby enhancing the user's incentive to access the system.
51. The system according to claim 49, wherein a user group is defined by a pre- specified list of users.
52. The system according to claim 50, wherein a user group is defined by a geographical characteristic associated with users.
53. A method for providing health-related information to users of an electronic information system with an incentive to increase usage of the system, comprising: providing at least one database of public and private health-related information; storing information defining a plurality of user groups; associating private health-related information in the database with each user group; and providing private health-related information in the database associated with a user group only to user devices of members of that user group while also providing to such users other health-related information in the database; providing to user devices of users who are not a member of a user group only such other health-related information; whereby members of user groups incentivized to access the system in order to obtain private information are also provided with other information, thereby increasing usage of the system.
54. The method according to claim 53, wherein a user may be a member of more than one user group, thereby enhancing the user's incentive to access the system.
55. The method according to claim 54, wherein a user group is defined by a pre- specified list of users.
56. The system according to claim 55, wherein a user group is defined by a geographical characteristic associated with users.
57. A method for providing health-related information to users of an electronic information system, comprising: providing at least one database of public and private health-related information; storing information defining a plurality of user groups; storing information defining one or more navigation tabs; associating private health-related information in the database with each user group; associating private navigation tabs with one or more user groups; providing private health-related information in the database associated with a user group only to user devices of members of that user group while also providing other health- related information in the database to user devices of users, providing such other health- related information in the database to user devices of users who are not a member of any user group; and providing private navigation tabs associated with a user group only to user devices of members of that user group.
58. The method according to claim 57, wherein the communications network is based on a hypertext mark-up language and the navigation tabs represent hypertext links.
59. A method for providing health-related information to users over an open network, comprising: associating, in computer accessible memory, private health-related information with one or more groups of users; associating, in computer accessible memory, users with one or more groups of users; providing, over the network, private to members of groups both (a) private health- related information in accordance with the association of private health-related information and groups of users and in accordance with the association of users with groups of users (b) non-private health related information to such users, such public and private information being provided for display together at least in summary form; and making non-private health-related information available over the network regardless of whether a user is to users not in any group of users.
60. A system for providing health-related information to users over an open network, comprising: means for associating, in computer accessible memory, private health-related information with one or more groups of users; means for associating, in computer accessible memory, users with one or more groups of users; means for providing, over the network, private to members of groups both (a) private health-related information in accordance with the association of private health-related information and groups of users and in accordance with the association of users with groups of users (b) non-private health related information to such users, such public and private information being provided for display together at least in summary form; and means for making non-private health-related information available over the network regardless of whether a user is to users not in any group of users.
61. A method of distributing public and private health-related information to users via an open network, the method comprising: providing public health-related news for distribution by the network; providing private health-related information pertaining to a group of users of a plurality of groups of users for distribution by the network; and distributing over the network (a) public health-related information to users and (b) private health-related information pertaining to a group only to users who are a member of that group.
62. A system of distributing public and private health-related information to users via an open network, comprising: means for providing public health-related news for distribution by the network; means for providing private health-related information pertaining to a group of users of a plurality of groups of users for distribution by the network; and means for distributing over the network (a) public health-related information to users and (b) private health-related information pertaining to a group only to users who are a member of that group.
63. A system for providing public and private health-related information over an open network, comprising: means for communicating with client devices over the network; means, accessible by the means for communicating, storing (a) public health-related information intended for public dissemination, (b) definitions of multiple groups of users, and (c) private health-related information intended for dissemination only to the members of the groups of users; the means for communicating providing over the network (a) public health-related information to client devices and (b) private health-related information only to members of a group to which that private information pertains.
64. A method of providing private and non-private information to members of respective groups of a plurality of groups over a network, and non-private information to others, each group having private information intended only for members of that group, the method comprising: each group providing private information that is stored in a data storage device; providing non-private information that is stored in a data storage device; each group providing authorizing information for each member of the respective group that is stored in a data storage device; providing, over the network, to an intended recipient who is authorized to receive the private information of a group based at least partially on the stored authorizing information (a) private information of that group from the data storage device in which it is stored, and together therewith (b) non-private information from the data storage device in which it is stored; and providing non-private information from the data storage device in which it is stored to other requesting recipients over the network.
65. A system for providing private and non-private information to members of respective groups of a plurality of groups over a network, and non-private information to others, each group having private information intended only for members of that group, the system comprising one or more data storage devices in which are stored private information of the groups and non-private information; a computer coupled to the data storage device directly or over a network; the computer having programming for: determining whether a user device is authorized to receive private information from a data storage device over the network and if so, providing requested private information to the authorized user device and non-private information; and providing requested non-private information over the network to other user devices.
66. A method of establishing a system for collecting and disseminating private and non-private information over a network, comprising: providing a computer system which stores information and provides information in accordance with a procedure; a plurality of information providers providing (a) information of a private nature relating to the respective information provider to the computer system and (b) authorizing information to the computer system by which the computer system can control dissemination of the private information; at least third parties providing non-private information to the computer system; and defining the procedure by which (a) computers which are determined by the computer system to be authorized can receive private information and also non-private information from the computer system and (b) other computers can receive only non-private information.
67. A method for delivering targeted advertising information comprising: providing a computer system which stores information and provides information in accordance with a procedure; providing (a) private information relating to a respective information provider to the computer system and (b) authorizing information to the computer system by which the computer system can control dissemination of the private information; providing non-private information to the computer system; providing advertising information to the computer system; associating advertising information with providers of the private information; providing private information and associated advertising information from the computer system over the network to recipients if a respective recipient has qualified according to the authorizing information; and providing non-private information from the computer system to other recipients.
68. The method according to claim 67 wherein an operator of the computer system is compensated for providing the advertising information to recipients.
69. The method according to claim 68 wherein the information providers are not charged any fee by the operator of the computer system for use of the computer system.
70. The method according to claim 67 wherein a soliciting party responsible for an information provider using the computer system is compensated.
71. The method according to claim 68 wherein the soliciting party is compensated by the computer system operator.
72. The method according to claim 68 wherein the soliciting party is compensated by an advertiser.
PCT/US2001/027117 2000-08-31 2001-08-31 Health-related information distribution system WO2002019222A1 (en)

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